Mitotic waves in the early embryogenesis of Drosophila: Bistability traded for speed.
Early embryogenesis of most metazoans is characterized by rapid and synchronous cleavage divisions. Chemical waves of Cdk1 activity were previously shown to spread across Drosophila embryos, and the underlying molecular processes were dissected. Here, we present the theory of the physical mechanisms that control Cdk1 waves in Drosophila The in vivo dynamics of Cdk1 are captured by a transiently bistable reaction-diffusion model, where time-dependent reaction terms account for the growing level of cyclins and Cdk1 activation across the cell cycle. We identify two distinct regimes. The first one is observed in mutants of the mitotic switch. There, waves are triggered by the classical mechanism of a stable state invading a metastable one. Conversely, waves in wild type reflect a transient phase that preserves the Cdk1 spatial gradients while the overall level of Cdk1 activity is swept upward by the time-dependent reaction terms. This unique mechanism generates a wave-like spreading that differs from bistable waves for its dependence on dynamic parameters and its faster speed. Namely, the speed of "sweep" waves strikingly decreases as the strength of the reaction terms increases and scales as the powers 3/4, -1/2, and 7/12 of Cdk1 molecular diffusivity, noise amplitude, and rate of increase of Cdk1 activity in the cell-cycle S phase, respectively. Theoretical predictions are supported by numerical simulations and experiments that couple quantitative measurements of Cdk1 activity and genetic perturbations of the accumulation rate of cyclins. Finally, our analysis bears upon the inhibition required to suppress Cdk1 waves at the cell-cycle pause for the maternal-to-zygotic transition.
Vergassola, M; Deneke, VE; Di Talia, S
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)