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Nat Mater. 2015 Oct;14(10):1040-8. doi: 10.1038/nmat4357. Epub 2015 Aug 3.

Unjamming and cell shape in the asthmatic airway epithelium.

Author information

1
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
2
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA.
3
School of Chemistry, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran 14179, Iran.
4
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
5
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514, USA.
6
Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.
7
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama 36688, USA.
8
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
9
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.

Abstract

From coffee beans flowing in a chute to cells remodelling in a living tissue, a wide variety of close-packed collective systems-both inert and living-have the potential to jam. The collective can sometimes flow like a fluid or jam and rigidify like a solid. The unjammed-to-jammed transition remains poorly understood, however, and structural properties characterizing these phases remain unknown. Using primary human bronchial epithelial cells, we show that the jamming transition in asthma is linked to cell shape, thus establishing in that system a structural criterion for cell jamming. Surprisingly, the collapse of critical scaling predicts a counter-intuitive relationship between jamming, cell shape and cell-cell adhesive stresses that is borne out by direct experimental observations. Cell shape thus provides a rigorous structural signature for classification and investigation of bronchial epithelial layer jamming in asthma, and potentially in any process in disease or development in which epithelial dynamics play a prominent role.

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PMID:
26237129
PMCID:
PMC4666305
DOI:
10.1038/nmat4357
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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