Mechanics of epithelial tissue formation

Ruben van Drongelen, Tania Vazquez-Faci, Teun A.P.M. Huijben, Maurijn van der Zee, Timon Idema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A key process in the life of any multicellular organism is its development from a single egg into a full grown adult. The first step in this process often consists of forming a tissue layer out of randomly placed cells on the surface of the egg. We present a model for generating such a tissue, based on mechanical interactions between the cells, and find that the resulting cellular pattern corresponds to the Voronoi tessellation of the nuclei of the cells. Experimentally, we obtain the same result in both fruit flies and flour beetles, with a distribution of cell shapes that matches that of the model, without any adjustable parameters. Finally, we show that this pattern is broken when the cells grow at different rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-189
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Biophysical modeling
  • Cellular mechanics
  • Development
  • Voronoi tessellation

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