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Cell Adh Migr. 2016 Sep 2;10(5):461-474. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

Toward the reconstitution of synthetic cell motility.

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a Department of Chemical Engineering and the Ilse Kats Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology , Ben-Gurion University of the Negev , Beer-Sheva , Israel.


Cellular motility is a fundamental process essential for embryonic development, wound healing, immune responses, and tissues development. Cells are mostly moving by crawling on external, or inside, substrates which can differ in their surface composition, geometry, and dimensionality. Cells can adopt different migration phenotypes, e.g., bleb-based and protrusion-based, depending on myosin contractility, surface adhesion, and cell confinement. In the few past decades, research on cell motility has focused on uncovering the major molecular players and their order of events. Despite major progresses, our ability to infer on the collective behavior from the molecular properties remains a major challenge, especially because cell migration integrates numerous chemical and mechanical processes that are coupled via feedbacks that span over large range of time and length scales. For this reason, reconstituted model systems were developed. These systems allow for full control of the molecular constituents and various system parameters, thereby providing insight into their individual roles and functions. In this review we describe the various reconstituted model systems that were developed in the past decades. Because of the multiple steps involved in cell motility and the complexity of the overall process, most of the model systems focus on very specific aspects of the individual steps of cell motility. Here we describe the main advancement in cell motility reconstitution and discuss the main challenges toward the realization of a synthetic motile cell.


active matter; cell motility; cytoskeleton; myosin contractility; synthetic reconstituted systems

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