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Brandstätter, Tom; Brückner, David B.; Han, Yu Long; Alert, Ricard; Guo, Ming; Broedersz, Chase P. (2023): Curvature induces active velocity waves in rotating spherical tissues. Nature Communications, 14 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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The multicellular organization of diverse systems, including embryos, intestines, and tumors relies on coordinated cell migration in curved environments. In these settings, cells establish supracellular patterns of motion, including collective rotation and invasion. While such collective modes have been studied extensively in flat systems, the consequences of geometrical and topological constraints on collective migration in curved systems are largely unknown. Here, we discover a collective mode of cell migration in rotating spherical tissues manifesting as a propagating single-wavelength velocity wave. This wave is accompanied by an apparently incompressible supracellular flow pattern featuring topological defects as dictated by the spherical topology. Using a minimal active particle model, we reveal that this collective mode arises from the effect of curvature on the active flocking behavior of a cell layer confined to a spherical surface. Our results thus identify curvature-induced velocity waves as a mode of collective cell migration, impacting the dynamical organization of 3D curved tissues.

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