Curvature induces active velocity waves in rotating multicellular spheroids

27 Oct 2021  ·  Tom Brandstätter, David B. Brückner, Yu Long Han, Ricard Alert, Ming Guo, Chase P. Broedersz ·

The multicellular organization of diverse systems, such as embryos, intestines and tumours, relies on the coordinated migration of cells in 3D curved environments. In these settings, cells establish supracellular patterns of motion, including collective rotation and invasion... While such collective modes are increasingly well understood in 2D flat systems, the consequences of geometrical and topological constraints on collective cell migration in 3D curved tissues are largely unknown. Here, we study 3D collective migration in mammary cell spheroids, which represent a common and conceptually simple curved geometry. We discover that these rotating spheroids exhibit a collective mode of cell migration in the form of a velocity wave propagating along the equator with a wavelength equal to the spheroid perimeter. This wave is accompanied by a pattern of incompressible cellular flow across the spheroid surface featuring topological defects, as dictated by the closed spherical topology. Using a minimal active particle model, we reveal that this collective mode originates from the active flocking behaviour of a cell layer confined to a curved surface. Our results thus identify curvature-induced velocity waves as a generic mode of collective cell migration, which could impact the dynamical organization of 3D curved tissues. read more

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Biological Physics Soft Condensed Matter Statistical Mechanics Cell Behavior