QuBiT: A quantitative tool for analyzing epithelial tubes reveals unexpected patterns of organization in the Drosophila trachea

Ran Yang, Eric Li, Yong Jae Kwon, Madhav Mani, Greg J. Beitel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biological tubes are essential for animal survival, and their functions are dependent on tube shape. Analyzing the contributions of cell shape and organization to the morphogenesis of small tubes has been hampered by the limitations of existing programs in quantifying cell geometry on highly curved tubular surfaces and calculating tubespecific parameters. We therefore developed QuBiT (Quantitative Tool for Biological Tubes) and used it to analyze morphogenesis of the embryonic Drosophila trachea (airway). In the main tube, we find previously unknown anterior-to-posterior (A-P) gradients of cell apical orientation and aspect ratio, and periodicity in the organization of apical cell surfaces. Inferred cell intercalation during development dampens an A-P gradient of the number of cells per cross-section of the tube, but does not change the patterns of cell connectivity. Computationally ‘unrolling’ the apical surface of wild-type trachea and the hindgut reveals previously unrecognized spatial patterns of the apical marker Uninflatable and a non-redundant role for the Na+/K+ ATPase in apical marker organization. These unexpected findings demonstrate the importance of a computational tool for analyzing small diameter biological tubes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdev172759
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Volume146
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Drosophila
  • Epithelial tube
  • Morphogenesis
  • Morphometric
  • Quantitative biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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