Global cell sorting is mediated by local cell-cell interactions in the C. elegans embryo

Marcus Bischoff, Ralf Schnabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The Caenorhabditis elegans embryo achieves pattern formation by sorting cells into coherent regions before morphogenesis is initiated. The sorting of cells is coupled to their fate. Cells move extensively relative to each other to reach their correct position in the body plan. Analyzing the mechanism of cell sorting in in vitro culture experiments using 4D microscopy, we show that all AB-derived cells sort only according to their local neighbors, and that all cells are able to communicate with each other. The directions of cell movement do not depend on a cellular polarity but only on local cell-cell interactions; in experimental situations, this allows even the reversal of the polarity of whole regions of the embryo. The work defines a new mechanism of pattern formation we call "cell focusing".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-44
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2006


  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Movement
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis


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