Issue 19, 2022

Arrested coalescence of multicellular aggregates


Multicellular aggregates are known to exhibit liquid-like properties. The fusion process of two cell aggregates is commonly studied as the coalescence of two viscous drops. However, tissues are complex materials and can exhibit viscoelastic behaviour. It is known that elastic effects can prevent the complete fusion of two drops, a phenomenon known as arrested coalescence. Here we study this phenomenon in stem cell aggregates and provide a theoretical framework which agrees with the experiments. In addition, agent-based simulations show that active cell fluctuations can control a solid-to-fluid phase transition, revealing that arrested coalescence can be found in the vicinity of an unjamming transition. By analysing the dynamics of the fusion process and combining it with nanoindentation measurements, we obtain the effective viscosity, shear modulus and surface tension of the aggregates. More generally, our work provides a simple, fast and inexpensive method to characterize the mechanical properties of viscoelastic materials.

Graphical abstract: Arrested coalescence of multicellular aggregates

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Article information

Article type
12 Jan 2022
22 Mar 2022
First published
05 May 2022
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2022,18, 3771-3780

Arrested coalescence of multicellular aggregates

D. Oriola, M. Marin-Riera, K. Anlaş, N. Gritti, M. Sanaki-Matsumiya, G. Aalderink, M. Ebisuya, J. Sharpe and V. Trivedi, Soft Matter, 2022, 18, 3771 DOI: 10.1039/D2SM00063F

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