Why does epithelia display heterogeneity? Bridging physical and biological concepts
Epithelial cells construct inner and outer linings of our organs and function as physical barriers, thus, protecting the underlying tissue from infections, dehydration, and also aiding in efficient absorption of nutrients and gases (Alberts 2008). Cells within the epithelia perform these tasks, being jammed at their place while also making sure that epithelial homeostasis is maintained, failing in which can be potentially fatal for the tissue (Macara et al. 2014). Interestingly, the same cells can unjam and flow almost like a fluid during physiological and pathological situations such as organ development, wound healing and cancer metastasis (Friedl and Gilmour 2009; Mongera et al. 2018; Park et al. 2016; Sadati et al. 2013; Scarpa and Mayor 2016). In such situations, cells, rather than moving individually, migrate as a group in various patterns (Haeger et al. 2015; Petitjean et al. 2010; Poujade et al. 2007; Rorth 2012; Tarle et al. 2015). Reductionist view holds that such...
We appreciate the support of the interdisciplinary centre for clinical research (IZKF) and the institute for molecular and cellular anatomy (MOCA) at RWTH Aachen, as well as the school of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of Bristol. M.V. and J.D.R. are guest scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany. We thank Adam Breitscheidel for his support in the graphic design and Natalia Simon for proofreading.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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