LMCB - MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology


New publication in Nature Physics for Mao Lab

A new publication in Nature Physics by the Mao Lab reveals tissue fluidity promotes epithelial wound healing. The Mao Lab use the developing wing of the fruit fly, Drosophila, to understand how cells behave during wound healing, and find that reducing mechanical tension in cells causes wounds to close faster.

Abstract from the article:

The collective behaviour of cells in epithelial tissues is dependent on their mechanical properties. However, the contribution of tissue mechanics to wound healing in vivo remains poorly understood. Here, we investigate the relationship between tissue mechanics and wound healing in live Drosophila wing imaginal discs and show that by tuning epithelial cell junctional tension, we can systematically alter the rate of wound healing. Coincident with the contraction of an actomyosin purse string, we observe cells flowing past each other at the wound edge by intercalating, reminiscent of molecules in a fluid, resulting in seamless wound closure. Using a cell-based physical model, we predict that a reduction in junctional tension fluidizes the tissue through an increase in intercalation rate and corresponding reduction in bulk viscosity, in the manner of an unjamming transition. The resultant fluidization of the tissue accelerates wound healing. Accordingly, when we experimentally reduce tissue tension in wing discs, the intercalation rate increases and wounds repair in less time.