The Francis Crick Institute
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Active morphogenesis of patterned epithelial shells.

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-19, 10:19 authored by Diana Khoromskaia, Guillaume Salbreux
Shape transformations of epithelial tissues in three dimensions, which are crucial for embryonic development or in vitro organoid growth, can result from active forces generated within the cytoskeleton of the epithelial cells. How the interplay of local differential tensions with tissue geometry and with external forces results in tissue-scale morphogenesis remains an open question. Here, we describe epithelial sheets as active viscoelastic surfaces and study their deformation under patterned internal tensions and bending moments. In addition to isotropic effects, we take into account nematic alignment in the plane of the tissue, which gives rise to shape-dependent, anisotropic active tensions and bending moments. We present phase diagrams of the mechanical equilibrium shapes of pre-patterned closed shells and explore their dynamical deformations. Our results show that a combination of nematic alignment and gradients in internal tensions and bending moments is sufficient to reproduce basic building blocks of epithelial morphogenesis, including fold formation, budding, neck formation, flattening, and tubulation.


Crick (Grant ID: 10317, Grant title: Salbreux FC001317) Cancer Research UK (Grant ID: 23342, Grant title: CRUK C55977/A23342)