12 May 2021
The detachment of cells from the boundary of an epithelial tissue and the subsequent invasion of these cells into surrounding tissues is important for cancer development and wound healing, and is strongly associated with the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Chemical signals, such as TGF-β, produced by surrounding tissue can be uptaken by cells and induce EMT. In this work, we present a novel cell-based discrete mathematical model of mechanical cellular relaxation, cell proliferation, and cell detachment driven by chemically-dependent EMT in an epithelial tissue. A continuum description of the model is then derived in the form of a novel nonlinear free boundary problem. Using the discrete and continuum models we explore how the coupling of chemical transport and mechanical interactions influences EMT, and postulate how this could be used to help control EMT in pathological situations.
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