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Epithelial cell sheets as engineering materials: mechanics, resilience and malleability

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 EpiMech project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the EpiMech project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "EpiMech" about.

excessive    tolerant    cultured    regarding    manipulate    property    molecules    fundamental    interact    permeability    combine    cells    bioinspired    times    inert    fluid    environment    serves    unlike    protective    free    buckling    rheology    epithelia    fracture    experimental    junctional    cavities    broad    longer    flaw    solid    materials    lines    give    hydrogels    surfaces    mechanical    scales    assembly    theoretical    qualitatively    paradoxically    biotechnology    tension    active    adhesion    cell    filled    lipid    membrane    tubular    exhibit    network    fibrous    monolayers    view    body    layer    structure    computational    3d    self    plane    relationships    conflicting    bilayers    resilience    networks    time    tunable    villi    mechanically    epithelium    force    integrity    largely    starting    chemical    besides    poroelasticity    chip    consequence    attached    cytoskeleton    cohesive    organ    malleable    retain    material    flow    vitro    functional    barrier    structures    stretch    intrigued    remodel    shown    dimensional    matrix    patterning    hydraulic    mechanobiological    engineering    unknown    living    dynamics    idea    behavior    technologies    framework    heal    guts    epithelial    suggesting    morphogenetic    microdevices    driving    shaping   

Project "EpiMech" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 8034

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Spain [ES]
 Total cost 1˙989˙875 €
 EC max contribution 1˙989˙875 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-CoG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-09-01   to  2021-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The epithelium is a cohesive two-dimensional layer of cells attached to a fluid-filled fibrous matrix, which lines most free surfaces and cavities of the body. It serves as a protective barrier with tunable permeability, which must retain integrity in a mechanically active environment. Paradoxically, it must also be malleable enough to self-heal and remodel into functional 3D structures such as villi in our guts or tubular networks. Intrigued by these conflicting material properties, the main idea of this proposal is to view epithelial monolayers as living engineering materials. Unlike lipid bilayers or hydrogels, widely used in biotechnology, cultured epithelia are only starting to be integrated in organ-on-chip microdevices. As for any complex inert material, this program requires a fundamental understanding of the structure-property relationships. (1) Regarding their effective in-plane rheology, at short time-scales epithelia exhibit solid-like behavior while at longer times they flow as a consequence of the only qualitatively understood dynamics of the cell-cell junctional network. (2) As for material failure, excessive tension can lead to epithelial fracture, but as we have recently shown, matrix poroelasticity can also cause hydraulic fracture under stretch. However, it is largely unknown how adhesion molecules, membrane, cytoskeleton and matrix interact to give epithelia their robust and flaw-tolerant resilience. (3) Regarding shaping 3D epithelial structures, besides the classical view of chemical patterning, mechanical buckling is emerging as a major morphogenetic driving force, suggesting that it may be possible design 3D epithelial structures in vitro by mechanical self-assembly. Towards understanding (1,2,3), we will combine a broad range of theoretical, computational and experimental methods. Besides providing fundamental mechanobiological understanding, this project will provide a framework to manipulate epithelia in bioinspired technologies.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Marino Arroyo, Xavier Trepat
Embryonic self-fracking
published pages: 442-443, ISSN: 0036-8075, DOI: 10.1126/science.aay2860
Science 365/6452 2020-04-08
2019 Caterina Tozzi, Nikhil Walani, Marino Arroyo
Out-of-equilibrium mechanochemistry and self-organization of fluid membranes interacting with curved proteins
published pages: 93004, ISSN: 1367-2630, DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/ab3ad6
New Journal of Physics 21/9 2020-04-08
2019 Alejandro Torres-Sánchez, Juan M. Vanegas, Prashant K. Purohit, Marino Arroyo
Combined molecular/continuum modeling reveals the role of friction during fast unfolding of coiled-coil proteins
published pages: 4961-4975, ISSN: 1744-683X, DOI: 10.1039/c9sm00117d
Soft Matter 15/24 2020-04-08
2017 Marino Arroyo, Xavier Trepat
Hydraulic fracturing in cells and tissues: fracking meets cell biology
published pages: 1-6, ISSN: 0955-0674, DOI: 10.1016/
Current Opinion in Cell Biology 44 2020-04-08
2019 Anabel-Lise Le Roux, Xarxa Quiroga, Nikhil Walani, Marino Arroyo, Pere Roca-Cusachs
The plasma membrane as a mechanochemical transducer
published pages: , ISSN: 0962-8436, DOI:
Philosophical Transactions B accepted 2020-04-08
2018 Dimitri Kaurin
A theoretical and computational study of soft adhesion mediated by mobile binders
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
2019 Alejandro Torres-Sánchez, Daniel Millán, Marino Arroyo
Modelling fluid deformable surfaces with an emphasis on biological interfaces
published pages: , ISSN: 0022-1120, DOI:
Journal of Fluid Mechanics accepted 2020-04-08
2018 Bin Li, Daniel Millán, Alejandro Torres-Sánchez, Benoît Roman, Marino Arroyo
A variational model of fracture for tearing brittle thin sheets
published pages: 334-348, ISSN: 0022-5096, DOI: 10.1016/j.jmps.2018.06.022
Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 119 2020-04-08
2018 Ernest Latorre, Sohan Kale, Laura Casares, Manuel Gómez-González, Marina Uroz, Léo Valon, Roshna V. Nair, Elena Garreta, Nuria Montserrat, Aránzazu del Campo, Benoit Ladoux, Marino Arroyo, Xavier Trepat
Active superelasticity in three-dimensional epithelia of controlled shape
published pages: 203-208, ISSN: 0028-0836, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0671-4
Nature 563/7730 2020-04-08
2019 Giovanni Noselli, Alfred Beran, Marino Arroyo, Antonio DeSimone
Swimming Euglena respond to confinement with a behavioural change enabling effective crawling
published pages: , ISSN: 1745-2473, DOI: 10.1038/s41567-019-0425-8
Nature Physics 2020-04-08
2019 Giovanni Noselli, Marino Arroyo, Antonio DeSimone
Smart helical structures inspired by the pellicle of euglenids
published pages: 234-246, ISSN: 0022-5096, DOI: 10.1016/j.jmps.2018.09.036
Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 123 2020-04-08

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