Active inter-cellular forces in collective cell motility

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The collective behaviour of confluent cell sheets is strongly influenced both by polar forces, arising through cytoskeletal propulsion, and by active inter-cellular forces, which are mediated by interactions across cell-cell junctions. We use a phase-field model to explore the interplay between these two contributions and compare the dynamics of a cell sheet when the polarity of the cells aligns to (i) their main axis of elongation, (ii) their velocity and (iii) when the polarity direction executes a persistent random walk. In all three cases, we observe a sharp transition from a jammed state (where cell rearrangements are strongly suppressed) to a liquid state (where the cells can move freely relative to each other) when either the polar or the inter-cellular forces are increased. In addition, for case (ii) only, we observe an additional dynamical state, flocking (solid or liquid), where the majority of the cells move in the same direction. The flocking state is seen for strong polar forces, but is destroyed as the strength of the inter-cellular activity is increased.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200312
JournalJournal of the Royal Society. Interface
Issue number169
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020

    Research areas

  • active matter, cell motility, phase-field model, MORPHOGENESIS, POLARIZATION, MIGRATION

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