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Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2022

Microphase separation of living cells

A Carrère
  • Function : Author
J D’alessandro
  • Function : Author
J Hesnard
  • Function : Author
N Ghazi
  • Function : Author
C Rivière
  • Function : Author
C Anjard
  • Function : Author
F Detcheverry
  • Function : Author
J-P Rieu
  • Function : Author


Self-organization of cells is central to a variety of biological systems and physical concepts of condensed matter have proven instrumental in deciphering some of their properties. Here we show that microphase separation, long studied in polymeric materials and other inert systems, has a natural counterpart in living cells. When placed below a millimetric film of liquid nutritive medium, a quasi two-dimensional, high-density population of Dictyostelium discoideum cells spontaneously assemble into compact domains. Their typical size of 100 µm is governed by a balance between competing interactions: an adhesion acting as a short-range attraction and promoting aggregation, and an effective long-range repulsion stemming from aerotaxis in near anoxic condition. Experimental data, a simple model and cell-based simulations all support this scenario. Our findings establish a generic mechanism for self-organization of living cells and highlight oxygen regulation as an emergent organizing principle for biological matter.
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hal-03683609 , version 1 (31-05-2022)



A Carrère, J D’alessandro, Olivier Cochet-Escartin, J Hesnard, N Ghazi, et al.. Microphase separation of living cells. 2022. ⟨hal-03683609⟩
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