Giant fluctuations and structural effects in a flocking epithelium

Fabio Giavazzi, Chiara Malinverno, Salvatore Corallino, Francesco Ginelli, Giorgio Scita, Roberto Cerbino

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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Epithelial cells cultured in a monolayer are very motile in isolation but reach a near-jammed state when mitotic division increases their number above a critical threshold. We have recently shown that a monolayer can be reawakened by over-expression of a single protein, RAB5A, a master regulator of endocytosis. This reawakening of motility was explained in term of a flocking transition that promotes the emergence of a large-scale collective migratory pattern. Here we focus on the impact of this reawakening on the structural properties of the monolayer. We find that the unjammed monolayer is characterised by a fluidisation at the single cell level and by enhanced non-equilibrium large-scale number fluctuations at a larger length scale. Also with the help of numerical simulations, we trace back the origin of these fluctuations to the 
 self-propelled active nature of the constituents and to the existence of a local alignment mechanism, leading to the spontaneous breaking of the orientational symmetry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number384003
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Early online date13 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017


  • active matter
  • jamming transition
  • collective cell migration
  • non-equilibrium fluctuations


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