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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Feb 1989; 86(4): 1254–1258.
PMCID: PMC286666

Fourier analysis of cell motility: correlation of motility with metastatic potential.


We report the development of a computerized, mathematical system for quantitating the various types of cell motility. This Fourier analysis method simultaneously quantifies for individual cells (i) temporal changes in cell shape represented by cell ruffling, undulation, and pseudopodal extension, (ii) cell translation, and (iii) average cell size and shape. This spatial-temporal Fourier analysis was tested on a series of well-characterized animal tumor cell lines of rat prostatic cancer to study in a quantitative manner the correlation of cell motility with increasing in vivo metastatic potential. Fourier motility coefficients measuring pseudopodal extension correlated best with metastatic potential in the cell lines studied. This study demonstrated that Fourier analysis provides quantitative measurement of cell motility that may be applied to the study of biological processes. This analysis should aid in the study of the motility of individual cells in various areas of cellular and tumor biology.

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