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    Mechanical forces play a critical role during embryonic development. Cellular and tissue wide forces direct cell migration, drive tissue morphogenesis and regulate organ growth. Despite the relevance of mechanics for these processes, our knowledge of the dynamics of mechanical forces in living tissues remains scarce. Recent studies have tried to address this problem with the development of tension sensors based on Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). These sensors are integrated into force bearing proteins and allow the measurement of mechanical tensions on subcellular structures. Here, we developed such a FRET-based sensor to measure E-Cadherin tensions in different Drosophila tissues in and ex vivo. Similar to previous studies, we integrated the sensor module into E-cadherin. We assessed the sensitivity of the sensor by measuring dynamic, developmental processes and mechanical modifications in three Drosophila tissues: the wing imaginal disc, the amnioserosa cells and the migrating border cells. However, these assays revealed that the sensor is not functional to measure the magnitude of tensions occurring in any of the three tissues. Moreover, we encountered technical problems with the measurement of FRET, which might represent more general pitfalls with FRET sensors in living tissues. These insights will help future studies to better design and control mechano-sensing experiments.


    Dominik Eder, Konrad Basler, Christof M Aegerter. Challenging FRET-based E-Cadherin force measurements in Drosophila. Scientific reports. 2017 Oct 20;7(1):13692

    PMID: 29057959

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