Forces directing the systemic correlations of cell migration

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Directional motility is an essential property of cells. Despite its enormous relevance in many fundamental physiological and pathological processes, how cells control their locomotion movements remains an unresolved question. Here we have addressed the systemic processes driving the directed locomotion of cells. Specifically, we have performed an exhaustive study analyzing the trajectories of 700 individual cells belonging to three different species ( Amoeba proteus , Metamoeba leningradensis and Amoeba borokensis ) in four different scenarios: in absence of stimuli, under an electric field (galvanotaxis), in a chemotactic gradient (chemotaxis), and under simultaneous galvanotactic and chemotactic stimuli. All movements were analyzed using advanced quantitative tools. The results show that the trajectories are mainly characterized by coherent integrative responses that operate at the global cellular scale. These systemic migratory movements depend on the cooperative non-linear interaction of most, if not all, molecular components of cells.


Cellular migration is a cornerstone issue in many human physiological and pathological processes. For years, the scientific attention has been focused on the individualized study of the diverse molecular parts involved in directional motility; however, locomotion movements have never been regarded as a systemic process that operates at a global cellular scale. In our quantitative experimental analysis essential systemic properties underlying locomotion movements were detected. Such emergent systemic properties are not found specifically in any of the molecular parts, partial mechanisms, or individual processes of the cell. Cellular displacements seem to be regulated by integrative processes operating at systemic level.

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