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Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Jun 5;114(22):228101. Epub 2015 Jun 2.

Propagating Stress Waves During Epithelial Expansion.

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James Franck Institute, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.
Department of Physics, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA.
Syracuse Biomaterials Institute, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA.


Coordinated motion of cell monolayers during epithelial wound healing and tissue morphogenesis involves mechanical stress generation. Here we propose a model for the dynamics of epithelial expansion that couples mechanical deformations in the tissue to contractile activity and polarization in the cells. A new ingredient of our model is a feedback between local strain, polarization, and contractility that naturally yields a mechanism for viscoelasticity and effective inertia in the cell monolayer. Using a combination of analytical and numerical techniques, we demonstrate that our model quantitatively reproduces many experimental findings [Nat. Phys. 8, 628 (2012)], including the buildup of intercellular stresses, and the existence of traveling mechanical waves guiding the oscillatory monolayer expansion.

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