Scientific article
Open access

Spontaneous shear flow in confined cellular nematics

Published inNature physics, vol. 14, no. 7, p. 728-732
Publication date2018-04-16
First online date2018-04-16

In embryonic development or tumor evolution, cells often migrate collectively within confining tracks defined by their microenvironment 1,2. In some of these situations, the displacements within a cell strand are antiparallel 3, giving rise to shear flows. However, the mechanisms underlying these spontaneous flows remain poorly understood. Here, we show that an ensemble of spindle-shaped cells plated in a well-defined stripe spontaneously develop a shear flow whose characteristics depend on the width of the stripe. On wide stripes, the cells self-organize in a nematic phase with a director at a well-defined angle with the stripe's direction, and develop a shear flow close to the stripe's edges. However, on stripes narrower than a critical width, the cells perfectly align with the stripe's direction and the net flow vanishes. A hydrodynamic active gel theory provides an understanding of these observations and identifies the transition between the non-flowing phase oriented along the stripe and the tilted phase exhibiting shear flow as a Fréedericksz transition driven by the activity of the cells. This physical theory is grounded in the active nature of the cells and based on symmetries and conservation laws, providing a generic mechanism to interpret in vivo antiparallel cell displacements.

Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
  • The Francis Crick Institute - [10317]
  • Cancer Research UK - [FC001317]
  • Wellcome Trust -
Citation (ISO format)
DUCLOS, G. et al. Spontaneous shear flow in confined cellular nematics. In: Nature physics, 2018, vol. 14, n° 7, p. 728–732. doi: 10.1038/s41567-018-0099-7
Main files (2)
Article (Accepted version)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1745-2473

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