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Journal Article

Self-organized shape dynamics of active surfaces


Mietke,  Alexander
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;


Jülicher,  Frank
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Mietke, A., Jülicher, F., & Sbalzarini, I. F. (2018). Self-organized shape dynamics of active surfaces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(1), 29-34. doi:10.1073/pnas.1810896115.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-5479-6
Mechanochemical processes in thin biological structures, such as the cellular cortex or epithelial sheets, play a key role during the morphogenesis of cells and tissues. In particular, they are responsible for the dynamical organization of active stresses that lead to flows and deformations of the material. Consequently, advective transport redistributes force-generating molecules and thereby contributes to a complex mechanochemical feedback loop. It has been shown in fixed geometries that this mechanism enables patterning, but the interplay of these processes with shape changes of the material remains to be explored. In this work, we study the fully self-organized shape dynamics using the theory of active fluids on deforming surfaces and develop a numerical approach to solve the corresponding force and torque balance equations. We describe the spontaneous generation of nontrivial surface shapes, shape oscillations, and directed surface flows that resemble peristaltic waves from self-organized, mechanochemical processes on the deforming surface. Our approach provides opportunities to explore the dynamics of self-organized active surfaces and can help to understand the role of shape as an integral element of the mechanochemical organization of morphogenetic processes.