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J Cell Biol. 2012 Jun 11;197(6):721-9. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201201003. Epub 2012 Jun 4.

2D protrusion but not motility predicts growth factor-induced cancer cell migration in 3D collagen.

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Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Growth factor-induced migration is a critical step in the dissemination and metastasis of solid tumors. Although differences in properties characterizing cell migration on two-dimensional (2D) substrata versus within three-dimensional (3D) matrices have been noted for particular growth factor stimuli, the 2D approach remains in more common use as an efficient surrogate, especially for high-throughput experiments. We therefore were motivated to investigate which migration properties measured in various 2D assays might be reflective of 3D migratory behavioral responses. We used human triple-negative breast cancer lines stimulated by a panel of receptor tyrosine kinase ligands relevant to mammary carcinoma progression. Whereas 2D migration properties did not correlate well with 3D behavior across multiple growth factors, we found that increased membrane protrusion elicited by growth factor stimulation did relate robustly to enhanced 3D migration properties of the MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-157 lines. Interestingly, we observed this to be a more reliable relationship than cognate receptor expression or activation levels across these and two additional mammary tumor lines.

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