An intriguing question in developmental biology is how do developmental processes achieve high reproducibility among individuals? In-depth analysis of information contained in phenotypic variability provides a new angle to address this question. In this work, we present a quantitative and functional analysis of single-cell positional variability during Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis. We find that cell position variability is highly deterministic and regulated by intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms. Positional variability is determined by cell lineage identity and is coupled to diverse developmental properties of cells including embryonic localization, cell contact, and left-right symmetry. Cells follow a concordant pattern of variability dynamics and fate specification contributes to a systems-wide reduction of variability that could provide a buffering strategy. Positional variability is stringently regulated throughout embryogenesis and cell adhesion and gap junctions function to restrict variability. Collectively, our results provide insight into systems properties and spatiotemporal control of cellular variability during in vivo development.
|end-1(ok558); end-3(dev85) (n=9)
|inx-2 (ok376) (n=13)
Images of individual embryos were cropped from original images (512X512X30) to reduce file size;
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