Mechanism underlying dynamic scaling properties observed in the contour of spreading epithelial monolayer

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We found evidence of dynamic scaling in the spreading of Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell monolayer, which can be characterized by the Hurst exponent α=0.86 and the growth exponent β=0.73, and theoretically and experimentally clarified the mechanism that governs the contour shape dynamics. Dynamic scaling refers to the roughness of the surface scales, both spatially and temporally. During the spreading of the monolayer, it is known that so-called leader cells generate the driving force and lead the other cells. Our time-lapse observations of cell behavior showed that these leader cells appeared at the early stage of the spreading and formed the monolayer protrusion. Informed by these observations, we developed a simple mathematical model that included differences in cell motility, cell-cell adhesion, and random cell movement. The model reproduced the quantitative characteristics obtained from the experiment, such as the spreading speed, the distribution of the increment, and the dynamic scaling law. Analysis of the model equation shows that the model can reproduce different scaling laws from (α=0.5,β=0.25) to (α=0.9,β=0.75), where the exponents α and β are determined by two dimensionless quantities determined by the microscopic cell behavior. From the analytical result, parameter estimation from the experimental results was achieved. The monolayer on the collagen-coated dishes showed a different scaling law, α=0.74,β=0.68, suggesting that cell motility increased ninefold. This result was consistent with the assay of the single-cell motility. Our study demonstrated that the dynamics of the contour of the monolayer were explained by the simple model, and we propose a mechanism that exhibits the dynamic scaling property.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062408
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 4 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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