Curling of epithelial monolayers reveals coupling between active bending and tissue tension.
ABSTRACT: Epithelial monolayers are two-dimensional cell sheets which compartmentalize the body and organs of multicellular organisms. Their morphogenesis during development or pathology results from patterned endogenous and exogenous forces and their interplay with tissue mechanical properties. In particular, bending of epithelia is thought to result from active torques generated by the polarization of myosin motors along their apicobasal axis. However, the contribution of these out-of-plane forces to morphogenesis remains challenging to evaluate because of the lack of direct mechanical measurement. Here we use epithelial curling to characterize the out-of-plane mechanics of epithelial monolayers. We find that curls of high curvature form spontaneously at the free edge of epithelial monolayers devoid of substrate in vivo and in vitro. Curling originates from an enrichment of myosin in the basal domain that generates an active spontaneous curvature. By measuring the force necessary to flatten curls, we can then estimate the active torques and the bending modulus of the tissue. Finally, we show that the extent of curling is controlled by the interplay between in-plane and out-of-plane stresses in the monolayer. Such mechanical coupling emphasizes a possible role for in-plane stresses in shaping epithelia during morphogenesis.
Project description:Morphogenesis during embryo development requires the coordination of mechanical forces to generate the macroscopic shapes of organs. We propose a minimal theoretical model, based on cell adhesion and actomyosin contractility, which describes the various shapes of epithelial cells and the bending and buckling of epithelial sheets, as well as the relative stability of cellular tubes and spheres. We show that, to understand these processes, a full 3D description of the cells is needed, but that simple scaling laws can still be derived. The morphologies observed in vivo can be understood as stable points of mechanical equations and the transitions between them are either continuous or discontinuous. We then focus on epithelial sheet bending, a ubiquitous morphogenetic process. We calculate the curvature of an epithelium as a function of actin belt tension as well as of cell-cell and and cell-substrate tension. The model allows for a comparison of the relative stabilities of spherical or cylindrical cellular structures (acini or tubes). Finally, we propose a unique type of buckling instability of epithelia, driven by a flattening of individual cell shapes, and discuss experimental tests to verify our predictions.
Project description:Epithelial bending is a central feature of morphogenesis in animals. Here we show that mutual antagonism by the small Rho GTPases Rac1 and RhoA determines cell shape, tissue curvature, and invagination activity in the model epithelium of the developing mouse lens. The epithelial cells of the invaginating lens placode normally elongate and change from a cylindrical to an apically constricted, conical shape. RhoA mutant lens placode cells are both longer and less apically constricted than control cells, thereby reducing epithelial curvature and invagination. By contrast, Rac1 mutant lens placode cells are shorter and more apically restricted than controls, resulting in increased epithelial curvature and precocious lens vesicle closure. Quantification of RhoA- and Rac1-dependent pathway markers over the apical-basal axis of lens pit cells showed that in RhoA mutant epithelial cells there was a Rac1 pathway gain of function and vice versa. These findings suggest that mutual antagonism produces balanced activities of RhoA-generated apical constriction and Rac1-dependent cell elongation that controls cell shape and thus curvature of the invaginating epithelium. The ubiquity of the Rho family GTPases suggests that these mechanisms are likely to apply generally where epithelial morphogenesis occurs.
Project description:In a wide range of epithelial tissues such as kidney tubules or breast acini, cells organize into bidimensional monolayers experiencing an out-of-plane curvature. Cancer cells can also migrate collectively from epithelial tumors by wrapping around vessels or muscle fibers. However, in vitro experiments dealing with epithelia are mostly performed on flat substrates, neglecting this out-of-plane component. In this paper, we study the development and migration of epithelial tissues on glass wires of well-defined radii varying from less than 1 µm up to 85 µm. To uncouple the effect of out-of-plane curvature from the lateral confinement experienced by the cells in these geometries, we compare our results to experiments performed on narrow adhesive tracks. Because of lateral confinement, the velocity of collective migration increases for radii smaller than typically 20 µm. The monolayer dynamics is then controlled by front-edge protrusions. Conversely, high curvature is identified as the inducer of frequent cell detachments at the front edge, a phenotype reminiscent of the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition. High curvature also induces a circumferential alignment of the actin cytoskeleton, stabilized by multiple focal adhesions. This organization of the cytoskeleton is reminiscent of in vivo situations such as the development of the trachea of the Drosophila embryo. Finally, submicron radii halt the monolayer, which then reconfigures into hollow cysts.
Project description:Microtubules (MTs) have been proposed to act mechanically as compressive struts that resist both actomyosin contractile forces and their own polymerization forces to mechanically stabilize cell shape. To identify the origin of MT bending, we directly observed MT bending and F-actin transport dynamics in the periphery of LLC-PK1 epithelial cells. We found that F-actin is nearly stationary in these cells even as MTs are deformed, demonstrating that MT bending is not driven by actomyosin contractility. Furthermore, the inhibition of myosin II activity through the use of blebbistatin results in microtubules that are still dynamically bending. In addition, as determined by fluorescent speckle microscopy, MT polymerization rarely results, if ever, in bending. We suppressed dynamic instability using nocodazole, and we observed no qualitative change in the MT bending dynamics. Bending most often results from anterograde transport of proximal portions of the MT toward a nearly stationary distal tip. Interestingly, we found that in an in vitro kinesin-MT gliding assay, MTs buckle in a similar manner. To make quantitative comparisons, we measured curvature distributions of observed MTs and found that the in vivo and in vitro curvature distributions agree quantitatively. In addition, the measured MT curvature distribution is not Gaussian, as expected for a thermally driven semiflexible polymer, indicating that thermal forces play a minor role in MT bending. We conclude that many of the known mechanisms of MT deformation, such as polymerization and acto-myosin contractility, play an inconsequential role in mediating MT bending in LLC-PK1 cells and that MT-based molecular motors likely generate most of the strain energy stored in the MT lattice. The results argue against models in which MTs play a major mechanical role in LLC-PK1 cells and instead favor a model in which mechanical forces control the spatial distribution of the MT array.
Project description:Many biological processes involve the collective generation and transmission of mechanical stresses across cell monolayers. In these processes, the monolayer undergoes lateral deformation and bending because of the tangential and normal components of the cell-generated stresses. Monolayer stress microscopy (MSM) methods have been developed to measure the intracellular stress distribution in cell monolayers. However, current methods assume plane monolayer geometry and neglect the contribution of bending to the intracellular stresses. This work introduces a three-dimensional (3D) MSM method that calculates monolayer stress from measurements of the 3D traction stresses exerted by the cells on a flexible substrate. The calculation is carried out by imposing equilibrium of forces and moments in the monolayer, subject to external loads given by the 3D traction stresses. The equilibrium equations are solved numerically, and the algorithm is validated for synthetic loads with known analytical solutions. We present 3D-MSM measurements of monolayer stress in micropatterned islands of endothelial cells of different sizes and shapes. These data indicate that intracellular stresses caused by lateral deformation emerge collectively over long distances; they increase with the distance from the island edge until they reach a constant value that is independent of island size. On the other hand, bending-induced intracellular stresses are more concentrated spatially and remain confined to within one to two cell lengths of bending sites. The magnitude of these bending stresses is highest at the edges of the cell islands, where they can exceed the intracellular stresses caused by lateral deformations. Our data from nonpatterned monolayers suggests that biomechanical perturbations far away from monolayer edges also cause significant localized alterations in bending tension. The localized effect of bending-induced stresses may be important in processes like cellular extravasation, which are accompanied by significant normal deflections of a cell monolayer (i.e., the endothelium) and require localized changes in monolayer permeability.
Project description:This study predicts the frictional moments at the head-cup interface and frictional torques and bending moments acting on the head-neck interface of a modular total hip replacement across a range of activities of daily living. The predicted moment and torque profiles are based on the kinematics of four patients and the implant characteristics of a metal-on-metal implant. Depending on the body weight and type of activity, the moments and torques had significant variations in both magnitude and direction over the activity cycles. For the nine investigated activities, the maximum magnitude of the frictional moment ranged from 2.6 to 7.1 Nm. The maximum magnitude of the torque acting on the head-neck interface ranged from 2.3 to 5.7 Nm. The bending moment acting on the head-neck interface varied from 7 to 21.6 Nm. One-leg-standing had the widest range of frictional torque on the head-neck interface (11 Nm) while normal walking had the smallest range (6.1 Nm). The widest range, together with the maximum magnitude of torque, bending moment, and frictional moment, occurred during one-leg-standing of the lightest patient. Most of the simulated activities resulted in frictional torques that were near the previously reported oxide layer depassivation threshold torque. The predicted bending moments were also found at a level believed to contribute to the oxide layer depassivation. The calculated magnitudes and directions of the moments, applied directly to the head-neck taper junction, provide realistic mechanical loading data for in vitro and computational studies on the mechanical behaviour and multi-axial fretting at the head-neck interface.
Project description:Cilia and flagella are model systems for studying how mechanical forces control morphology. The periodic bending motion of cilia and flagella is thought to arise from mechanical feedback: dynein motors generate sliding forces that bend the flagellum, and bending leads to deformations and stresses, which feed back and regulate the motors. Three alternative feedback mechanisms have been proposed: regulation by the sliding forces, regulation by the curvature of the flagellum, and regulation by the normal forces that deform the cross-section of the flagellum. In this work, we combined theoretical and experimental approaches to show that the curvature control mechanism is the one that accords best with the bending waveforms of Chlamydomonas flagella. We make the surprising prediction that the motors respond to the time derivative of curvature, rather than curvature itself, hinting at an adaptation mechanism controlling the flagellar beat.
Project description:Epithelial tissues function as barriers that separate the organism from the environment. They usually have highly curved shapes, such as tubules or cysts. However, the processes by which the geometry of the environment and the cell's mechanical properties set the epithelium shape are not yet known. In this study, we encapsulated two epithelial cell lines, MDCK and J3B1A, into hollow alginate tubes and grew them under cylindrical confinement forming a complete monolayer. MDCK monolayers detached from the alginate shell at a constant rate, whereas J3B1A monolayers detached at a low rate unless the tube radius was reduced. We showed that this detachment is driven by contractile stresses in the epithelium and can be enhanced by local curvature. This allows us to conclude that J3B1A cells exhibit smaller contractility than MDCK cells. Monolayers inside curved tubes detach at a higher rate on the outside of a curve, confirming that detachment is driven by contraction.
Project description:Adherens junctions and desmosomes integrate the cytoskeletons of adjacent cells into a mechanical syncitium. In doing so, intercellular junctions endow tissues with the strength needed to withstand the mechanical stresses encountered in normal physiology and to coordinate tension during morphogenesis. Though much is known about the biological mechanisms underlying junction formation, little is known about how tissue-scale mechanical properties are established. Here, we use deep atomic force microscopy (AFM) indentation to measure the apparent stiffness of epithelial monolayers reforming from dissociated cells and examine which cellular processes give rise to tissue-scale mechanics. We show that the formation of intercellular junctions coincided with an increase in the apparent stiffness of reforming monolayers that reflected the generation of a tissue-level tension. Tension rapidly increased, reaching a maximum after 150?min, before settling to a lower level over the next 3?h as monolayers established homeostasis. The emergence of tissue tension correlated with the formation of adherens junctions but not desmosomes. As a consequence, inhibition of any of the molecular mechanisms participating in adherens junction initiation, remodelling and maturation significantly impeded the emergence of tissue-level tension in monolayers.
Project description:Surfactants at air/water interfaces are often subjected to mechanical stresses as the interfaces they occupy are reduced in area. The most well characterized forms of stress relaxation in these systems are first order phase transitions from lower density to higher density phases. Here we study stress relaxation in lipid monolayers that occurs once chemical phase transitions have been exhausted. At these highly compressed states, the monolayer undergoes global mechanical relaxations termed collapse. By studying four different types of monolayers, we determine that collapse modes are most closely linked to in-plane rigidity. We characterize the rigidity of the monolayer by analyzing in-plane morphology on numerous length scales. More rigid monolayers collapse out-of-plane via a hard elastic mode similar to an elastic membrane, while softer monolayers relax in-plane by shearing.