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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Jul;10(7):445-57. doi: 10.1038/nrm2720.

Collective cell migration in morphogenesis, regeneration and cancer.

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Microscopical Imaging of the Cell, Department of Cell Biology (283), Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. BOX 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


The collective migration of cells as a cohesive group is a hallmark of the tissue remodelling events that underlie embryonic morphogenesis, wound repair and cancer invasion. In such migration, cells move as sheets, strands, clusters or ducts rather than individually, and use similar actin- and myosin-mediated protrusions and guidance by extrinsic chemotactic and mechanical cues as used by single migratory cells. However, cadherin-based junctions between cells additionally maintain 'supracellular' properties, such as collective polarization, force generation, decision making and, eventually, complex tissue organization. Comparing different types of collective migration at the molecular and cellular level reveals a common mechanistic theme between developmental and cancer research.

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