Wrinkling Instability in Unsupported Epithelial Sheets

We investigate the elasticity of an unsupported epithelial monolayer and we discover that unlike a thin solid plate, which wrinkles if geometrically incompatible with the underlying substrate, the epithelium may do so even in the absence of the substrate. From a cell-based model, we derive an exact elasticity theory and discover wrinkling driven by the differential apico-basal surface tension. Our theory is mapped onto that for supported plates by introducing a phantom substrate whose stiffness is finite beyond a critical differential tension. This suggests a new mechanism for an autonomous control of tissues over the length scale of their surface patterns.

  • Received 21 October 2022
  • Accepted 20 April 2023

DOI:https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.130.198401

© 2023 American Physical Society

Biological PhysicsCondensed Matter, Materials & Applied PhysicsPolymers & Soft Matter

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