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Cell Adh Migr. 2015;9(5):367-79. doi: 10.1080/19336918.2015.1066958.

Physical view on migration modes.

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a Faculty of Physics and Earth Science; Institute of Experimental Physics I; Biological Physics Division; University of Leipzig ; Leipzig , Germany.


Cellular motility is essential for many processes such as embryonic development, wound healing processes, tissue assembly and regeneration, immune cell trafficing and diseases such as cancer. The migration efficiency and the migratory potential depend on the type of migration mode. The previously established migration modes such as epithelial (non-migratory) and mesenchymal (migratory) as well as amoeboid (squeezing motility) relay mainly on phenomenological criteria such as cell morphology and molecular biological criteria such as gene expression. However, the physical view on the migration modes is still not well understood. As the process of malignant cancer progression such as metastasis depends on the migration of single cancer cells and their migration mode, this review focuses on the different migration strategies and discusses which mechanical prerequisites are necessary to perform a special migration mode through a 3-dimensional microenvironment. In particular, this review discusses how cells can distinguish and finally switch between the migration modes and what impact do the physical properties of cells and their microenvironment have on the transition between the novel migration modes such as blebbing and protrusive motility.


acto-myosin cytoskeleton; blebbing; cell invasion; cellular stiffness; contractile forces; cytoskeletal remodeling; focal adhesions; integrins; intermediate filaments; matrix-metalloproteases; transendothelial migration

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