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CeNS Colloquium

Kleiner Physik-Hörsaal, Fakultät für Physik
Date: 20.11.2015, Time: 15:30h

Tumor cell migration as a heterogeneous random walk

Joint colloquium with SFB1032
Prof. Ben Fabry, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Depending on cell type and the local environment, tumor cells show a variety of different migration modes, including mesenchymal and amoeboid motion. As the cell interacts with a spatially changing extracellular matrix, cell movements are highly heterogeneous in space and time and thus do not comply with conventional statistical models. By explicitly incorporating this heterogeneity into mathematical models, it is possible to quantify how cells change their migration behavior over time. Based on Bayesian hierarchical modeling, the temporal evolution of directional persistence and migratory activity of each cell can be reconstructed from its measured migration path. The temporal changes in persistence and activity provide a distinct fingerprint of the strategies that cells employ to cope with different environments. For example, persistence is positively correlated with activity in a 3D collagen matrix over much longer time periods compared to migration on 2-D substrates, supporting the hypothesis that cells are able to pull themselves along collagen fibers and hence use the surrounding matrix to their advantage. To test this hypothesis, we measure cell pulling forces in a collagen gel with 3D traction force microscopy. We find that directional persistence of invading MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells is highly correlated with contractility and cell elongation. The invasion behavior of these cells can thus be described by a gliding motion with alternating phases of simultaneously high or low contractility, elongation, migratory activity and persistence.