Configurational entropy is an intrinsic driver of tissue structural heterogeneity

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Jul 2:2023.07.01.546933. doi: 10.1101/2023.07.01.546933.


Tissues comprise ordered arrangements of cells that can be surprisingly disordered in their details. How the properties of single cells and their microenvironment contribute to the balance between order and disorder at the tissue-scale remains poorly understood. Here, we address this question using the self-organization of human mammary organoids as a model. We find that organoids behave like a dynamic structural ensemble at the steady state. We apply a maximum entropy formalism to derive the ensemble distribution from three measurable parameters - the degeneracy of structural states, interfacial energy, and tissue activity (the energy associated with positional fluctuations). We link these parameters with the molecular and microenvironmental factors that control them to precisely engineer the ensemble across multiple conditions. Our analysis reveals that the entropy associated with structural degeneracy sets a theoretical limit to tissue order and provides new insight for tissue engineering, development, and our understanding of disease progression.

Keywords: Cell fluctuations; Cell sorting; Entropy; Heterogeneity; Interfacial mechanics; Mammary organoids; Statistical mechanics; Tissue self-organization.

Publication types

  • Preprint