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Exp Cell Res. 2004 Aug 1;298(1):178-87.

Tumor cell locomotion: differential dynamics of spontaneous and induced migration in a 3D collagen matrix.

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  • 1Institute of Immunology, Witten/Herdecke University, 58448 Witten, Germany.


Although great strides have recently been made in elucidating the factors initiating tumor cell migration and the relevant cellular pathways involved, the constituent components of migratory dynamics for individual tumor cell motion have still not been resolved. Utilizing a three-dimensional (3D) collagen assay and computer-assisted, continuous single cell tracking, we investigated the basic parameters for both the spontaneous and norepinephrine-induced migration of highly metastatic MBA-MB-468 breast, PC-3 prostate, and SW 480 colon carcinoma cells. We show that tumor cells do not migrate with uniform migrational structure and speed as previously thought, but rather, the induction of locomotion elicits significant increases in speed, break frequency, and total cell displacement, but decreases in break length and no change in the recruitment of nonlocomotory cells. We furthermore illustrate the corresponding morphological changes of induced tumor cell migration with emphasis on motion in a collagen matrix. These results demonstrate the complexity of tumor cell migration, and the compulsion for incorporating not only knowledge of intracellular pathways, but also fundamental parameters of migratory behavior into any expansive theory of tumor cell migration and metastasis formation. We furthermore establish the analytical methodology of investigating both the stimulation and potential pharmaceutical inhibition of tumor cell migration.

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