Relating cell and tissue mechanics: Implications and applications



The Differential Adhesion Hypothesis (DAH) posits that differences in adhesion provide the driving force for morphogenetic processes. A manifestation of differential adhesion is tissue liquidity and a measure for it is tissue surface tension. In terms of this property, DAH correctly predicts global developmental tissue patterns. However, it provides little information on how these patterns arise from the movement and shape changes of cells. We provide strong qualitative and quantitative support for tissue liquidity both in true developmental context and in vitro assays. We follow the movement and characteristic shape changes of individual cells in the course of specific tissue rearrangements leading to liquid-like configurations. Finally, we relate the measurable tissue-liquid properties to molecular entities, whose direct determination under realistic three-dimensional culture conditions is not possible. Our findings confirm the usefulness of tissue liquidity and provide the scientific underpinning for a novel tissue engineering technology. Developmental Dynamics 237:2438–2449, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.