Long-lived force patterns and deformation waves at repulsive epithelial boundaries

Pilar Rodriguez-Franco, Agusti Brugués, Ariadna Marin-Llaurado, Vito Conte, Guiomar Solanas, Eduard Batlle, Jeffrey J. Fredberg, Pere Roca-Cusachs, Raimon Sunyer, Xavier Trepat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


For an organism to develop and maintain homeostasis, cell types with distinct functions must often be separated by physical boundaries. The formation and maintenance of such boundaries are commonly attributed to mechanisms restricted to the cells lining the boundary. Here we show that, besides these local subcellular mechanisms, the formation and maintenance of tissue boundaries involves long-lived, long-ranged mechanical events. Following contact between two epithelial monolayers expressing, respectively, EphB2 and its ligand ephrinB1, both monolayers exhibit oscillatory patterns of traction forces and intercellular stresses that tend to pull cell-matrix adhesions away from the boundary. With time, monolayers jam, accompanied by the emergence of deformation waves that propagate away from the boundary. This phenomenon is not specific to EphB2/ephrinB1 repulsion but is also present during the formation of boundaries with an inert interface and during fusion of homotypic epithelial layers. Our findings thus unveil a global physical mechanism that sustains tissue separation independently of the biochemical and mechanical features of the local tissue boundary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1036
Number of pages8
JournalNature Materials
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks
  • Dogs
  • Ephrin-B1/genetics
  • Epithelial Cells/cytology
  • Epithelium/metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix/genetics
  • Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells
  • Receptor, EphB2/genetics
  • Stress, Physiological


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