Bayesian Force inference


In the course of animal development, the shape of tissue emerges in part from mechanical and biochemical interactions between cells. Quantification of force and stress is therefore necessary to unveil novel physical principles involved in regulation of morphogenesis.

Various in vivo mechanical measurement methods have been developed. In particular, laser ablation of individual cell junctions is used as a tool to evaluate the tension acting on a cell contact surface. Such measurements have shed light on how cell shape and rearrangement are regulated by the activity and/or localization of force-generating molecular machinery within a cell.

A new complementary approach to such subcellular and invasive measurements is force inference from cell shapes and connectivity. It is non-invasive and can provide space-time maps of stress in a whole tissue, unlike existing methods. We have shown that inferred force and stress values are consistent with those obtained using other methods, such as laser ablation of cortical actin cables, quantification of myosin concentration and photo-elasticity, and large-scale tissue ablation. Further, comparative tests of three force inference methods proved that our Bayesian force inference performs best in terms of accuracy and robustness. The global and noninvasive nature of the Bayesian force-inference method uniquely enables us to relate space-time maps of force/stress in tissue to morphogenesis and multi-cellular pattern formation.




1. Single cell resolution
2. > 10,000 cells
3. Non–invasive
4. Model–free


  • Shuji Ishihara# and Kaoru Sugimura#.
    #: corresponding author
    Bayesian inference of force dynamics during morphogenesis.
    Journal of Theoretical Biology 313: 201-211 (2012) [PubMed]

  • Shuji Ishihara, Kaoru Sugimura, Simon J Cox, Isabelle Bonnet, Yohanns Bellaïche, and François Graner.
    Comparative study of non-invasive force and stress inference in tissue.
    European Physical Journal E 36: 45 (2013) [PubMed] [The cover article of the issue] [topical issue on physical constraints on morphogenesis and evolution]

  • Kaoru Sugimura#, Yohanns Bellaïche, François Graner, Philippe Marcq, and Shuji Ishihara.
    Robustness of force and stress inference in an epithelial tissue.
    IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2712-2715 (2013) [Pubmed] [arXiv]

  • Kaoru Sugimura# and Shuji Ishihara#.
    The mechanical anisotropy in a tissue promotes ordering in hexagonal cell packing.
    Development 140: 4091-4101 (2013) [Pubmed] [In this issue]

  • 石原 秀至, 杉村 薫.
    実験医学 31: 1232-1238 (2013) (5月号特集 「生命システムを定量する! ー未知なる現象の謎を解け!」

  • Boris Guirao, Stéphane Rigaud, Floris Bosveld, Anaïs Bailles, Jesús López-Gay, Shuji Ishihara, Kaoru Sugimura, François Graner, and Yohanns Bellaïche.
    Unified quantitative characterization of epithelial tissue development.
    eLife 4; e08519 (2015) [Pubmed] [Journal]