8th Annual Symposium
Physics of Cancer
Leipzig, Germany
October 4-6, 2017
Invited Talk
Multiscale Cell Motility: From Substrate Deformation to Collective Migration
Erwin Frey
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Theresienstrasse 37, München, Germany
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A large number of physiological functions involved in both the development and maintenance of multi-cellular organisms, crucially depend on the ability of cells to migrate through and adapt to their respective environments. The capability of cells to do so is impacted by several different factors, including mechanical confinement and the viscoelastic properties of the underlying surface. We have developed a highly versatile computational model which is specifically designed to study the dynamics of cell migration at various scales, ranging from solitary crawling cells to small cell cohorts up to the scale of tissues. Using the model to investigate the motions of single cells and small cell groups confined in circular territories demonstrates that persistency of cellular movements is significantly impacted by cell contractility and cell polarizability. At the monolayer level, we predict how stress distributions and front morphologies depend on single cell features. Moreover, we show how a coarse description of substrate viscoelasticity yields rather unexpected results. The viscous properties of the environment determine whether a single cell speeds up or slows down on surfaces with increasing stiffness, leading to the emergence of durotaxis. On macroscopic scales, cell-induced substrate deformations are detected by nearby cells and hence serve as a mechanism for long-range mechanical communication.
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