Effective Potential Description of the Interaction between Single Stem Cells and Localized Ligands

Ignacio Bordeu, Clare Garcin, Shukry Habib, Gunnar Pruessner

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Cell signaling is essential for cell fate determination and tissue patterning. As signaling ligands are presented to the receiving cell, they are recruited and recognized by the cell membrane so as to elicit a biological response and to pattern multicellular tissues. Cells can accumulate and transport these ligands, which results in an emergent organization of the ligands’ spatial distribution. To study this organization, we make use of a simplified experimental setup, in which single mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) can interact with immobilized ligands. We introduce a two-species age-dependent correlation function that allows the description and quantification of the spatiotemporal dynamics of single cell-ligand interactions. Through the analysis of mESC data and numerical simulations, we show that cells act as effective force-field generators, perturbing and organizing their environment. This organization, captured in the form of an aging effective potential, is an emergent property of the population of single cells interacting with randomly distributed localized ligands.
Original languageEnglish
Article number041022
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2020


  • Cell locomotion
  • cell signaling
  • classical transport
  • diffusion
  • random walks
  • self-organization
  • signal transduction


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