Excitable Dynamics and Yap-Dependent Mechanical Cues Drive the Segmentation Clock

Alexis Hubaud, Ido Regev, L. Mahadevan, Olivier Pourquié

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The periodic segmentation of the vertebrate body axis into somites, and later vertebrae, relies on a genetic oscillator (the segmentation clock) driving the rhythmic activity of signaling pathways in the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). To understand whether oscillations are an intrinsic property of individual cells or represent a population-level phenomenon, we established culture conditions for stable oscillations at the cellular level. This system was used to demonstrate that oscillations are a collective property of PSM cells that can be actively triggered in vitro by a dynamical quorum sensing signal involving Yap and Notch signaling. Manipulation of Yap-dependent mechanical cues is sufficient to predictably switch isolated PSM cells from a quiescent to an oscillatory state in vitro, a behavior reminiscent of excitability in other systems. Together, our work argues that the segmentation clock behaves as an excitable system, introducing a broader paradigm to study such dynamics in vertebrate morphogenesis. YAP and Notch collaborate to control collective cellular oscillations during somitogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-682.e11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2017


  • Notch
  • Yap
  • clock
  • excitability
  • excitable system
  • oscillations
  • presomitic mesoderm
  • segmentation
  • somitogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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