On the mechanical interplay between intra- and inter-synchronization during collective cell migration : a numerical investigation
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Collective cell migration is a fundamental process that takes place during several biological phenomena such as embryogenesis, immunity response, and tumorogenesis, but the mechanisms that regulate it are still unclear. Similarly to collective animal behavior, cells receive feedbacks in space and time, which control the direction of the migration and the synergy between the cells of the population, respectively. While in single cell migration intra-synchronization (i.e. the synchronization between the protrusion-contraction movement of the cell and the adhesion forces exerted by the cell to move forward) is a sufficient condition for an efficient migration, in collective cell migration the cells must communicate and coordinate their movement between each other in order to be as efficient as possible (i.e. inter-synchronization). Here, we propose a 2D mechanical model of a cell population, which is described as a continuum with embedded discrete cells with or without motility phenotype. The decomposition of the deformation gradient is employed to reproduce the cyclic active strains of each single cell (i.e. protrusion and contraction). We explore different modes of collective migration to investigate the mechanical interplay between intra- and inter-synchronization. The main objective of the paper is to evaluate the efficiency of the cell population in terms of covered distance and how the stress distribution inside the cohort and the single cells may in turn provide insights regarding such efficiency.
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