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Chen D.,Beijing Institute of Technology | Norris D.,MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit | Ventikos Y.,University College London
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine | Year: 2014

Precise specification of left-right asymmetry is essential for patterning the internal organs of vertebrates. Within the embryonic node, posteriorly polarised cilia rotate, causing a leftward fluid flow (nodal flow) that establishes left-right asymmetry. The mechanism by which an embryo senses nodal flow remains uncertain. Existing hypotheses argue that either nodal flow carries morphogen(s) or lipid-bounded vesicles towards the left, thereby generating an asymmetric signal, and/or that mechano-sensory cilia sense this unidirectional flow, stimulating left-sided intracellular calcium signalling. To date, direct and definitive evidence supporting these hypotheses has been lacking. In this study, we conduct a multiscale study to simulate the nodal cilia and the fluidic environment, analysing left-right signal transmission. By employing computational simulation techniques and solving the relevant three-dimensional unsteady transport equations, we study the flow pattern produced by the rotation of active cilia. By importing dilute species and particles into the computational domain, we investigate the transport of morphogens and nodal vesicular parcels, respectively. Furthermore, by extending the analysis to include the solid mechanics of passive deformable cilia and the coupling of their structural behaviour with the emerging fluid mechanics, we study the response of passive cilia to the nodal flow. Our results reproduce the unidirectional nodal flow, allowing us to evaluate the plausibility of both chemo- and mechano-sensing hypotheses. The quantitative measurements of the flow rate, the molecular transport and distribution provide guidance regarding the necessary morphogen molecular weights to break signalling symmetry. The passive sensory ciliary deformation gives indications regarding the plausibility of this mechano-signalling mechanism. © IMechE 2014.


Chen C.-M.,University of Oxford | Norris D.,MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit | Bhattacharya S.,University of Oxford
Pediatric Cardiology | Year: 2010

The heart develops from a simple left-right (L-R) symmetrical tube. Through a complex process of looping and remodelling, it becomes a highly L-R asymmetrical organ with distinct asymmetries in both morphology and function. Abnormal cardiac L-R patterning can result in a spectrum of defects that include, dextrocardia (a malposition of the heart to the right), isomerism of the atria (both atria being morphologically right-sided or left-sided), abnormal ventricular topology (e.g. the morphological left ventricle being dextral to the morphological right ventricle) or mirror-image topology (associated with situs inversus). Intermediate forms include abnormalities such as situs ambiguus and heterotaxia. L-R patterning abnormalities are typically associated with cardiac malformations, and it has become clear that an isolated septal, outflow tract and aortic arch malformation may be the only presenting manifestation of an L-R patterning defect. In the last two decades, there have been seminal advances in our understanding of the mechanisms controlling L-R patterning, and how mutations in L-R patterning genes result in human cardiac malformation. In this review, we provide an overview of the transcriptional mechanisms that result in asymmetric gene activation in mammals, how they receive information from signalling pathways, and how this translates to abnormal cardiac development. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010.


Chen D.,University of Oxford | Norris D.,MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit | Ventikos Y.,University of Oxford
Medical Engineering and Physics | Year: 2011

Left-right symmetry breaking in the mammalian embryo is believed to occur in a transient embryonic structure, the node: rotational motion of cilia within this structure creates a leftward flow of liquid that is the first asymmetric event observed. A hypothesis, often referred to as the "two-cilia" hypothesis, proposes that the node contains two kinds of primary cilia: motile cilia, driven by motor proteins, that rotate clockwise generating the leftward flow and passive cilia that act as mechano-sensors, reacting mechanically to the emerging flow. The exact mechanism that underlies the initial breaking of symmetry remains unclear, in spite of several studies that have attempted to elucidate the processes involved. In this paper, we present two computational models to (i) simulate the unidirectional flow induced by the active ciliary motion as well as their propulsion on the passive cilia and to (ii) investigate the protein activity that produces the active ciliary rotation-like movement. The models presented incorporate methodologies from computational fluid dynamics, deformable mesh computational techniques and fluid-structure interaction analysis. By solving the three-dimensional unsteady transport equations, with suitable boundary conditions, we confirm that the whirling motion of active cilia is capable of inducing the unidirectional flow and that the passive cilia are pushed by this flow towards the left with a visible deformation of 41.7% of the ciliary length on the tip, supporting the plausibility of the two-cilia hypothesis. Further, by applying finite element analysis and grid deformation techniques, we investigate the ciliary motion triggered by the activation of protein motors and propose a possible dynein activation pattern that is able to produce the clockwise rotation of embryonic cilia. © 2010 IPEM.


Brown S.D.M.,MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit | Moore M.W.,International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium
Mammalian Genome | Year: 2012

Determining the function of all mammalian genes remains a major challenge for the biomedical science community in the 21st century. The goal of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) over the next 10 years is to undertake broad-based phenotyping of 20,000 mouse genes, providing an unprecedented insight into mammalian gene function. This short article explores the drivers for large-scale mouse phenotyping and provides an overview of the aims and processes involved in IMPC mouse production and phenotyping. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012.


Joyce P.I.,MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit | Fratta P.,University College London | Fisher E.M.C.,University College London | Acevedo-Arozena A.,MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit
Mammalian Genome | Year: 2011

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal motor neuron disease with no cure. Breakthroughs in understanding ALS pathogenesis came with the discovery of dominant mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 gene (SOD1) and other genes, including the gene encoding transactivating response element DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43). This has led to the creation of animal models to further our understanding of the disease and identify a number of ALS-causing mechanisms, including mitochondrial dysfunction, protein misfolding and aggregation, oxidative damage, neuronal excitotoxicity, non-cell autonomous effects and neuroinflammation, axonal transport defects, neurotrophin depletion, effects from extracellular mutant SOD1, and aberrant RNA processing. Here we summarise the SOD1 and TDP-43 animal models created to date, report on recent findings supporting the potential mechanisms of ALS pathogenesis, and correlate this understanding with current developments in the clinic. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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