The study of organoids, artificially grown cell aggregates with the functionality and small-scale anatomy of real organs, is one of the most active areas of research in biology and biophysics, yet the basic physical origins of their different morphologies remain poorly understood. In their Nature Communications paper, Jan Rozman, Matej Krajnc, and Primož Ziherl propose a mechanistic theory of epithelial shells which resemble small-organoid morphologies. Using a 3D surface tension-based vertex model of non-differentiated cells, they reproduce the characteristic shapes from branched and budded to invaginated structures. Their work provides a generic interpretation of the observed epithelial shell morphologies, highlighting the role of physical factors such as differential surface tension, cell rearrangements, and tissue growth.
Publication: J. Rozman, M. Krajnc, and P. Ziherl, Collective cell mechanics of epithelial sheets with organoid-like morphologies, Nat. Commun. 11, 3805 (2020).