We review recent evidence showing that cell and tissue dynamics are governed by mesoscale physical principles. These principles can be understood in terms of simple state diagrams in which control variables include force, density, shape, adhesion and self-propulsion. An appropriate combination of these physical quantities gives rise to emergent phenomena such as cell jamming, topological defects and underdamped waves. Mesoscale physical properties of cell assemblies are found to precede and instruct biological functions such as cell division, extrusion, invasion and gradient sensing. These properties are related to properties of biomolecules, but cannot be predicted from biochemical principles. Thus, biological function is governed by emergent mesoscale states that can be predicted by a simple set of physical properties.
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We apologize to the many colleagues whose work could not be cited owing to space constraints. We thank E. Latorre, F. Giavazzi, R. Cerbino, G. Jacquemet, J. Ivaska, J. Taraska and K. Sochacki for contributing original materials, and all members of our laboratories for critical comments and encouragement. The authors acknowledge support by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness through the Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa Award to the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (X.T.) and through grant BFU2015-65074-P (X.T.), the Generalitat de Catalunya (Cerca Program and 2014-SGR-927 to X.T.), the European Research Council (CoG-616480 to X.T.) and the European Commission (project 731957 to X.T.). E.S. is funded by the Francis Crick Institute, which receives its core funding from Cancer Research UK (FC001144), the UK Medical Research Council (FC001144) and the Wellcome Trust (FC001144).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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A one-dimensional individual-based mechanical model of cell movement in heterogeneous tissues and its coarse-grained approximation
Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences (2019)
Nature Physics (2019)
Journal of the Physical Society of Japan (2019)
Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2019)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019)