The Keith Peters Building
Fitness selection in the early mouse embryo: how differences in mitochondrial activity trigger cell competition
During the early stages of mammalian development, the cellular and molecular landscape is profoundly remodelled. As embryonic cells approach gastrulation, when the precursors of all embryonic tissues are specified, they need to rewire the transcriptional, epigenetic, metabolic and signalling networks that govern cell identity. The scale of this remodelling creates a large potential for the emergence of abnormal cells that need to be removed to prevent them from contributing to later development or the germline. Here I will discuss the work my laboratory has done to unravel the mechanism of elimination of these damaged cells. I will present evidence to show that during embryonic differentiation, cells with a variety of forms of cellular damage, from mis-patterning to karyotypical abnormalities, are recognised as a less-fit and eliminated by their neighbours through cell competition. Furthermore, I will discuss the role that differences in mitochondrial activity has for triggering these competitive interactions as well as the implications that this fitness selection has for regulation of proper embryonic growth.