Correlating cell shape and cellular stress in motile confluent tissues

Xingbo Yang, Dapeng Bi, Michael Czajkowski, Matthias Merkel, M. Lisa Manning, M. Cristina Marchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Collective cell migration is a highly regulated process involved in wound healing, cancer metastasis, and morphogenesis. Mechanical interactions among cells provide an important regulatory mechanism to coordinate such collective motion. Using a self-propelled Voronoi (SPV) model that links cell mechanics to cell shape and cell motility, we formulate a generalized mechanical inference method to obtain the spatiotemporal distribution of cellular stresses from measured traction forces in motile tissues and show that such traction-based stresses match those calculated from instantaneous cell shapes. We additionally use stress information to characterize the rheological properties of the tissue. We identify a motility-induced swim stress that adds to the interaction stress to determine the global contractility or extensibility of epithelia. We further show that the temporal correlation of the interaction shear stress determines an effective viscosity of the tissue that diverges at the liquid–solid transition, suggesting the possibility of extracting rheological information directly from traction data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12663-12668
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 28 2017


  • Cell shape
  • Cell stress
  • Phase transition
  • Self-propelled
  • Vertex model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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