Mechanical Coupling Coordinates the Co-elongation of Axial and Paraxial Tissues in Avian Embryos.
Tissues undergoing morphogenesis impose mechanical effects on one another. How developmental programs adapt to or take advantage of these effects remains poorly explored. Here, using a combination of live imaging, modeling, and microsurgical perturbations, we show that the axial and paraxial tissues in the forming avian embryonic body coordinate their rates of elongation through mechanical interactions. First, a cell motility gradient drives paraxial presomitic mesoderm (PSM) expansion, resulting in compression of the axial neural tube and notochord; second, elongation of axial tissues driven by PSM compression and polarized cell intercalation pushes the caudal progenitor domain posteriorly; finally, the axial push drives the lateral movement of midline PSM cells to maintain PSM growth and cell motility. These interactions form an engine-like positive feedback loop, which sustains a shared elongation rate for coupled tissues. Our results demonstrate a key role of inter-tissue forces in coordinating distinct body axis tissues during their co-elongation.