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J Cell Sci. 1979 Apr;36:281-309.

Preaggregative cell motion in Dictyostelium.


The motions of a large number (495) of preaggregative D. discoideum NC-4 cells in sparse fields are recorded on time-lapse film and analysed using a specially constructed computer graphics system. All films are produced under a standard set of conditions, so that the range of cell behaviours under given conditions can be characterized. The mean velocity of pre-aggregative D. discoideum NC-4 is 7.19 micrometers/min. The mean velocity time course has a significant early peak at about 3 h. The distribution of mean velocities is fairly broad with a long high velocity tail. A modified random walk model using the parameters diffusion constant and persistence time describes well the changes in cell direction with time. Persistence can be described as an exponentially distributed 'memory' of movement direction, with a mean of 4.89 min. High velocity cells never have long persistence times, and persistence time shows no relationship with age. A nearest neighbour model of cell spacing shows that cells are randomly (Poisson) distributed at low densities. Measurements of cell contacts are compared to a simple model of contact frequency based on the kinetic theory of gases to show that cells at low densities have an affinity for making collisions. The length of contact durations is indicative of some mechanical adhesion between cells, and cells in contact move significantly though not dramatically slower. A cross-correlation analysis shows that the various parameters of motion are significantly interrelated in numerous ways. Finally mutants and strains related to D. discoideum NC-4 exhibit a number of new behaviours, suggesting that motion is a distinctive characteristic of cell type.

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