A mathematical model for mechanotransduction at the early steps of suture formation

R. H. Khonsari*, J. Olivier, P. Vigneaux, S. Sanchez, P. Tafforeau, P. E. Ahlberg, F. Di Rocco, D. Bresch, P. Corre, A. Ohazama, P. T. Sharpe, V. Calvez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Growth and patterning of craniofacial sutures is subjected to the effects of mechanical stress. Mechanotransduction processes occurring at the margins of the sutures are not precisely understood. Here, we propose a simple theoretical model based on the orientation of collagen fibres within the suture in response to local stress. We demonstrate that fibre alignment generates an instability leading to the emergence of interdigitations. We confirm the appearance of this instability both analytically and numerically. To support our model, we use histology and synchrotron X-ray microtomography and reveal the fine structure of fibres within the sutural mesenchyme and their insertion into the bone. Furthermore, using a mouse model with impaired mechanotransduction, we show that the architecture of sutures is disturbed when forces are not interpreted properly. Finally, by studying the structure of sutures in the mouse, the rat, an actinopterygian (Polypterus bichir) and a placoderm(Compagopiscis croucheri), we show that bone deposition patterns during dermal bone growth are conserved within jawed vertebrates. In total, these results support the role of mechanical constraints in the growth and patterning of craniofacial sutures, a process that was probably effective at the emergence of gnathostomes, and provide new directions for the understanding of normal and pathological suture fusion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20122670
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings - Royal Society. Biological Sciences
Issue number1759
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2013


  • sutural bone growth
  • mechanical instability
  • partial differential equation
  • synchrotron microtomography
  • mechanotransduction
  • FGFR2
  • FATE
  • MICE


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