Fusion of Cell Clusters

The fusion of cell clusters is a ubiquitous phenomenon across various biological processes, encompassing embryo development, tissue engineering, and the proliferation of bacterial colonies. Studying the dynamics of fusion between two cell clusters in experimental settings provides a non-invasive method to probe the mechanical properties of these clusters. Notably, distinct behaviors emerge when comparing the fusion dynamics of clusters composed of tumor cells versus normal cells.

While the coalescence of conventional complex liquids has been extensively studied, the fusion of cell clusters presents unique challenges due to the distinctive characteristics of living cells, such as their deformable shapes, active movement and collective coordination. We aim to implement computational models to investigate how these cellular characteristics influence the fusion of cell clusters. By developing new theoretical frameworks tailored to these ‘active liquids/solids’ comprised of living cells, we seek to deepen our understanding of this complex process and pave the way for innovative applications in fields ranging from biomedical engineering to regenerative medicine.

Interfaces of Cell Populations

The presence or absence of stable interfaces plays a pivotal role in numerous physiological and pathological phenomena. For instance, during embryo development, stable interfaces delineate distinct partitions within developing tissues, whereas in tumor invasion, the stability of interfaces between tumor cells and normal tissues or the extracellular matrix (ECM) is compromised, facilitating the infiltration of tumor cells into healthy tissue.

Furthermore, the characteristics of interfaces, such as the formation of finger-like projections or wave patterns observed during wound healing or bacterial colony growth, are governed by the collective coordination of cell movements. These dynamic interface features serve as invaluable indicators of the intricate behaviors exhibited by cells. We use computational models and soft matter theories to decipher the complex dynamics of interfaces of these cell populations, aiming to advance our understanding of various biological processes, ranging from tissue regeneration to tumor invasion.

Coordinated Collective Cell Migration

In collective cell migration, individual cells coordinate their polarization through communication with neighboring cells. This coordination manifests in various ways, including the adjustment of directionality and speed relative to neighboring cells and the formation of supracellular arrangements characterized by front-to-back specialization and cytoskeletal continuity. Understanding the intricate coordination mechanisms underlying collective cell migration is crucial, as they contribute to the overall efficiency of the group.

These coordination mechanisms involve a complex interplay of signaling and mechanical factors. Our research aims to unravel these factors and their influence on collective cell migration across different biological processes, such as embryo development, wound healing, and tumor invasion. By employing mathematical models, we seek to decipher the underlying principles governing collective cell behavior, ultimately contributing to advancements in understanding and potentially manipulating these processes for therapeutic interventions.

Collective Movement in Complex Environments

Cells typically inhabit intricate environments; for instance, bacteria thrive in soils, which can be conceptualized as either granular materials or porous mediums, while cells are ensconced within extracellular matrices (ECM) characterized by networks of fiber-like structures. Understanding how cell movement is influenced by these complex environments, and conversely, how cellular activity shapes or alters these environments, poses crucial questions.

Our research delves into the intricate interplay between these active agents and their surroundings. By elucidating these interactions, we aim to deepen our understanding of pivotal biological processes such as tumor invasion and biofilm growth in more realistic conditions. Additionally, our investigations shed light on the impact of soil-dwelling organisms like bacteria, ants, or worms on the properties of soils.