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Jos Käfer - From cells to tissues : physical modelling of the collective behaviour of embryonic cells

Seminar at INRIA Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, Montbonnot, December 18, 2008, 11 AM


To understand how cellular mechanical properties act on the level of a tissue, where they are implied in morphogenesis, it has been proposed that cells act as soap bubbles or molecules in a liquid. We test these analogies between tissues and physical systems with a computational model, in collaboration with experimentalists.

We study three cases : cell packing in the retina of Drosophila, the spontaneous sorting of zebrafish germlayer cells, and compression experiments of aggregates of embryonic cells.

The physical analogies classically used to study these cases prove to be incomplete, but interesting. They allow us to develop a distinctive description of tissues and aggregates. Cells tile the space without gap nor overlap, they can change shape and rearrange, and they are active. This approach allows to study how cell-level properties like adhesion, cortical tension and the cellular fluctuations govern the behaviour on the collective level, and on morphogenesis.


Jos Käfer, Laboratoire de Spectrométrie Physique, UMR 5588 UJF-Grenoble I & CNRS, St Martin d’Hères


INRIA Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, Montbonnot, December 18, 11 AM, room A104