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Mechanically-driven Stem Cell Separation in Tissues caused by Proliferating Daughter Cells

by Johannes C. Krämer, Edouard Hannezo, Gerhard Gompper, Jens Elgeti

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Submission summary

Authors (as registered SciPost users): Jens Elgeti · Johannes C. Krämer
Submission information
Preprint Link: scipost_202402_00001v2  (pdf)
Date accepted: 2024-03-11
Date submitted: 2024-02-13 08:37
Submitted by: Elgeti, Jens
Submitted to: SciPost Physics
Ontological classification
Academic field: Physics
  • Biophysics
Approaches: Theoretical, Computational


The homeostasis of epithelial tissue relies on a balance between the self-renewal of stem cell populations, cellular differentiation, and loss. Although this balance needs to be tightly regulated to avoid pathologies, such as tumor growth, the regulatory mechanisms, both cell-intrinsic and collective, which ensure tissue steady-state are still poorly understood. Here, we develop a computational model that incorporates basic assumptions of stem cell renewal into distinct populations and mechanical interactions between cells. We find that the model generates unexpected dynamic features: stem cells repel each other in the bulk tissue and are thus found rather isolated, as in a number of in vivo contexts. By mapping the system onto a gas of passive Brownian particles with effective repulsive interactions, that arise from the generated flows of differentiated cells, we show that we can quantitatively describe such stem cell distribution in tissues. The interaction potential between a pair of stem cells decays exponentially with a characteristic length that spans several cell sizes, corresponding to the volume of cells generated per stem cell division. Our findings may help understanding the dynamics of normal and cancerous epithelial tissues.

Author comments upon resubmission

We would like to express our sincere thanks to the editor for his efforts to obtain a further peer review to assess the quality of the work. We also thank the reviewer for his efforts and are very pleased with the positive report.

We are happy that we can further improve the contextualization of the work through his suggestions and have now taken them up in the discussion.

List of changes

- Extend the discussion regarding possible extensions of the model, in particular spheroids and glass-like vs fluid behavior, based on the suggestions of the referee, and included additional references. (one paragraph in the discussion section)
- Update one existing reference, which was cited as a preprint, and now has been accepted and published.

Published as SciPost Phys. 16, 097 (2024)

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