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On the mechanism of long-range alignment order of fibroblasts

By Xuefei Li, Rajesh Balagam, Ting-Fang He, Peter P Lee, Oleg A Igoshin, Herbert Levine

Posted 23 Mar 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/119669 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1707210114)

Long-range alignment ordering of fibroblasts have been observed in the vicinity of cancerous tumors and can be recapitulated with in vitro experiments. However, the mechanisms driving their ordering are not understood. Here we show that local collision-driven nematic alignment interactions among fibroblasts are insufficient to explain observed long-range alignment. One possibility is that there exists another orientation field co-evolving with the cells and reinforcing their alignment. We propose this field reflects the mechanical cross-talk between the fibroblasts and the underlying fibrous material on which they move. We demonstrate that this new long-range interaction can give rise to high nematic order and to the observed patterning of the cancer microenvironment.

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