Travelling waves in a free boundary mechanobiological model of an epithelial tissue
Murphy RJ., Buenzli PR., Baker RE., Simpson MJ.
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd We consider a free boundary model of epithelial cell migration with logistic growth and nonlinear diffusion induced by mechanical interactions. Using numerical simulations, phase plane and perturbation analysis, we find and analyse travelling wave solutions with negative, zero, and positive wavespeeds. Unlike classical travelling wave solutions of reaction–diffusion equations, the travelling wave solutions that we explore have a well-defined front and are not associated with a heteroclinic orbit in the phase plane. We find leading order expressions for both the wavespeed and the density at the free boundary. Interestingly, whether the travelling wave solution invades or retreats depends only on whether the carrying capacity density corresponds to cells being in compression or extension.