How do cells produce and regulate the driving force in the process of migration?
Biomechanics and biomaterials laboratory, School of Aerospace Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
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Received: 7 February 2014
Revised: 14 April 2014
Published online: 12 June 2014
Cell migration behaviors have been studied from various aspects and at different length scales (molecular, subcellular and cellular scales), however, the mechanisms of how cell produces and controls the driving force for its migration have not been fully understood. Here for the first time we draw a more unified picture of driving force production that integrates the mechanisms from molecular to subcellular and cellular levels to show how cell produces and regulates the driving force and thus control its motility. We suggest that although the external mechanical and chemical factors can influence cell migration, the cell is able to actively control and regulate its driving force for its motility through controlling the stability of cell adhesion via actively regulating its spreading shape. To demonstrate this picture of regulation of the driving force, a FEM-based simulation framework is developed by modeling the dynamics of adhesion at cell front, de-adhesion at cell rear, and forward motion of cell body under cell traction force for different cell shape. The migration of keratocyte and fibroblast cells is simulated for different matrix rigidity and rigidity gradient. We show that the cell migration speed biphasically depends on the matrix rigidity. The mechanism is that the variation of matrix rigidity tunes the balance of competition between stability of cell adhesion at cell front and instability of adhesion at cell rear, which consequently controls the driving force of cell migration. We further propose a parameter called motility factor for a quantitative description of impact of mechanical properties of matrix and cell shape on the driving force of cell migration.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2014