Prof Xavier Trepat
Mechanobiology of epithelial folding and migration in intestinal organoids
Intestinal organoids capture essential features of the intestinal epithelium such as folding of the crypt, spatial compartmentalization of different cell types, and cellular movements from crypt to villus-like domains. Each of these processes and their coordination in time and space requires patterned physical forces that are currently unknown. In this study, we map the three-dimensional cell-ECM and cell-cell forces in mouse intestinal organoids grown on soft hydrogels. We show that these organoids exhibit a non-monotonic stress distribution that defines mechanical and functional compartments. The stem cell compartment pushes the ECM and folds through apical constriction, whereas the transit amplifying zone pulls the ECM and elongates through basal constriction. Tension measurements establish that the transit amplifying zone isolates mechanically the stem cell compartment and the villus-like domain. A 3D vertex model shows that the shape and force distribution of the crypt can be largely explained by cell surface tensions following the measured apical and basal actomyosin density. Finally, we show that cells are pulled out of the crypt along a gradient of increasing tension, rather than pushed by a compressive stress downstream of mitotic pressure as previously assumed. Our study unveils how patterned forces enable folding and collective migration in the intestinal crypt.