Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich: How cellular surface tension brings cells and tissues into shape

Inaugural Lecture: Heisenberg Professorship for Mechanics of Active Biomaterials

Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich will give the inaugural speech of her Heisenberg Professorship for Mechanics of Active Biomaterials at the Faculty of Physics.

Just like liquid droplets, cells exhibit a surface tension. In droplets, surface tension stems from interfacial tension associated with the boundary of different phases. However, cellular surface tension corresponds to a mechanical tension in a thin layer of a biopolymer network at the outermost surface of cells. The tension in this network is generated by active processes and is based on the non-equilibrium nature of this living system. I will explain concepts and data of how cells generate this active surface tension. Furthermore, I will give examples of how cells use this actively regulated surface tension in biological processes such as cell division and tissue morphogenesis.