Incomplete Cell Sorting Creates Engineerable Structures with Long-Term Stability

Jesse Tordoff, Matej Krajnc, Nicholas Walczak, Matthew Lima, Jacob Beal, Stanislav Shvartsman, Ron Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Adhesion-mediated cell sorting has long been considered an organizing principle in developmental biology. While most computational models have emphasized the dynamics of segregation to fully sorted structures, cell sorting can also generate a plethora of transient, incompletely sorted states. The timescale of such states in experimental systems is unclear: if they are long-lived, they can be harnessed by development or engineered in synthetic tissues. Here, we use experiments and computational modeling to demonstrate how such structures can be systematically designed by quantitative control of cell composition. By varying the number of highly adhesive and less adhesive cells in multicellular aggregates, we find the cell-type ratio and total cell count control pattern formation, with resulting structures maintained for several days. Our work takes a step toward mapping the design space of self-assembling structures in development and provides guidance to the emerging field of shape engineering with synthetic biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100305
JournalCell Reports Physical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Engineering
  • General Energy
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • cell sorting
  • particle-based modeling
  • self-organization
  • synthetic biology
  • synthetic morphogenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Incomplete Cell Sorting Creates Engineerable Structures with Long-Term Stability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this