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Randomness and variability in animal embryogenesis, a multi-scale approach

Abstract : We propose in this thesis to characterize variability quantitatively at various scales during embryogenesis. We use a combination of mathematical models and experimental results. In the first part, we use a small cohort of digital sea urchin embryos to construct a prototypical representation of the cell lineage, which relates individual cell features with embryo-level dynamics. This multi-level data-driven probabilistic model relies on symmetries of the embryo and known cell types, which provide a generic coarse-grained level of observation for distributions of individual cell features. The prototype is defined as the centroid of the cohort in the corresponding statistical manifold. Among several results, we show that intra-individual variability is involved in the reproducibility of the developmental process. In the second part, we consider the mechanisms sources of variability during development and their relations to evolution. Building on experimental results showing variable phenotypic expression and incomplete penetrance in a zebrafish mutant line, we propose a clarification of the various levels of biological variability using a formal analogy with quantum mechanics mathematical framework. Surprisingly, we find a formal analogy between quantum entanglement and Mendel’s idealized scheme of inheritance. In the third part, we study biological organization and its relations to developmental paths. By adapting the tools of algebraic topology, we compute invariants of the network of cellular contacts extracted from confocal microscopy images of epithelia from different species and genetic backgrounds. In particular, we show the influence of individual histories on the spatial distribution of cells in epithelial tissues.
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  • HAL Id : tel-01410227, version 1

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Paul Villoutreix. Randomness and variability in animal embryogenesis, a multi-scale approach. Development Biology. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCB083⟩. ⟨tel-01410227⟩

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