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Shape-tension coupling produces nematic order in an epithelium vertex model

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SPLW02 - Active mechanics, from single cells to cell layers, tissues and development

We study the vertex model for epithelial tissue mechanics extended to include coupling between the cell shapes and tensions in cell-cell junctions [1]. This coupling represents an active force which drives the system out of equilibrium and leads to the formation of nematic order interspersed with prominent, long-lived +1 defects. The defects in the nematic ordering are coupled to the shape of the cell tiling, affecting cell areas and coordinations. This intricate interplay between cell shape, size, and coordination provides a possible mechanism by which tissues could spontaneously develop long-range polarity through local mechanical forces without resorting to long-range chemical patterning.  [1] J. Rozman, R. Sknepnek, and J. M. Yeomans, arXiv preprint arXiv:2212.11037 (2022).

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