Regular Article - Living Systems
Spontaneous multi-scale void formation and closure in densifying epithelial and fibroblast monolayers from the sub-confluent state
Department of Physics and Center for Complex Systems, National Central University, 32001, Jhongli, Taiwan
Accepted: 23 October 2022
Published online: 8 November 2022
Using time-lapse phase contrast microscopy, the formation and closure of spontaneously generated voids in the densifying monolayers of isotropic epithelial cells (ECs) and elongated fibroblast cells (FCs) through proliferation from the sub-confluent state are investigated. It is found that, in both types of monolayers after forming a connected network composed of nematic patches with different orientations, numerous multi-scale voids can be spontaneously formed and gradually close with increasing time. The isotropic fluctuations of deformation and crawling of ECs and the anisotropic axial motion/alignment polarizations of FCs are the two keys leading to the following different generic dynamical behaviors. In EC monolayers, voids exhibit irregular boundary fluctuations and easier cell re-orientation of front layer cells (FLCs) surrounding void boundaries. Void closures are mainly through pinching the gap between the opposite fluctuating void boundaries, and the inward crawling of FLCs to reduce void area associated with topological rearrangement to reduce FLC number. In FC monolayers, large voids have piecewise smooth convex boundaries, and cusp-shaped concave boundaries with cells orienting toward the void at cusp tips. The extension of a thin cell bridge from the cusp tip can bisect a large void into smaller voids. For smaller FC voids dominated by convex boundaries, along which cell alignment prohibits inward crawling, the reduction of FLC number through successive outward squeezing of single FLCs by neighboring FLCs sliding along the void boundary plays an important role for topological rearrangement and void closure. Unlike those surrounding artificial wounds in dense EC monolayers, the absence of ring-like purse-strings surrounding EC and FC voids allows topological rearrangements for reducing void perimeter and void area.
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