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A sub-cellular viscoelastic model for cell population mechanics.

  • Author(s): Jamali, Yousef
  • Azimi, Mohammad
  • Mofrad, Mohammad
  • et al.
Abstract

Understanding the biomechanical properties and the effect of biomechanical force on epithelial cells is key to understanding how epithelial cells form uniquely shaped structures in two or three-dimensional space. Nevertheless, with the limitations and challenges posed by biological experiments at this scale, it becomes advantageous to use mathematical and in silico (computational) models as an alternate solution. This paper introduces a single-cell-based model representing the cross section of a typical tissue. Each cell in this model is an individual unit containing several sub-cellular elements, such as the elastic plasma membrane, enclosed viscoelastic elements that play the role of cytoskeleton, and the viscoelastic elements of the cell nucleus. The cell membrane is divided into segments where each segment (or point) incorporates the cells interaction and communication with other cells and its environment. The model is capable of simulating how cells cooperate and contribute to the overall structure and function of a particular tissue; it mimics many aspects of cellular behavior such as cell growth, division, apoptosis and polarization. The model allows for investigation of the biomechanical properties of cells, cell-cell interactions, effect of environment on cellular clusters, and how individual cells work together and contribute to the structure and function of a particular tissue. To evaluate the current approach in modeling different topologies of growing tissues in distinct biochemical conditions of the surrounding media, we model several key cellular phenomena, namely monolayer cell culture, effects of adhesion intensity, growth of epithelial cell through interaction with extra-cellular matrix (ECM), effects of a gap in the ECM, tensegrity and tissue morphogenesis and formation of hollow epithelial acini. The proposed computational model enables one to isolate the effects of biomechanical properties of individual cells and the communication between cells and their microenvironment while simultaneously allowing for the formation of clusters or sheets of cells that act together as one complex tissue.

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