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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.

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