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Biophys J. May 1999; 76(5): 2814–2823.
PMCID: PMC1300252

Biophysical integration of effects of epidermal growth factor and fibronectin on fibroblast migration.


Cell migration is regulated simultaneously by growth factors and extracellular matrix molecules. Although information is continually increasing regarding the relevant signaling pathways, there exists little understanding concerning how these pathways integrate to produce the biophysical processes that govern locomotion. Herein, we report the effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and fibronectin (Fn) on multiple facets of fibroblast motility: locomotion speed, membrane extension and retraction activity, and adhesion. A surprising finding is that EGF can either decrease or increase locomotion speed depending on the surface Fn concentration, despite EGF diminishing global cell adhesion at all Fn concentrations. At the same time, the effect of EGF on membrane activity varies from negative to positive to no-effect as Fn concentration and adhesion range from low to high. Taking these effects together, we find that EGF and Fn regulate fibroblast migration speed through integration of the processes of membrane extension, attachment, and detachment, with each of these processes being rate-limiting for locomotion in sequential regimes of increasing adhesivity. Thus, distinct biophysical processes are shown to integrate for overall cell migration responses to growth factor and extracellular matrix stimuli.

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