Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 May 4;13(5):e1005524. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005524. eCollection 2017 May.

A mathematical model coupling polarity signaling to cell adhesion explains diverse cell migration patterns.

Author information

Department of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada.


Protrusion and retraction of lamellipodia are common features of eukaryotic cell motility. As a cell migrates through its extracellular matrix (ECM), lamellipod growth increases cell-ECM contact area and enhances engagement of integrin receptors, locally amplifying ECM input to internal signaling cascades. In contrast, contraction of lamellipodia results in reduced integrin engagement that dampens the level of ECM-induced signaling. These changes in cell shape are both influenced by, and feed back onto ECM signaling. Motivated by experimental observations on melanoma cells lines (1205Lu and SBcl2) migrating on fibronectin (FN) coated topographic substrates (anisotropic post-density arrays), we probe this interplay between intracellular and ECM signaling. Experimentally, cells exhibited one of three lamellipodial dynamics: persistently polarized, random, or oscillatory, with competing lamellipodia oscillating out of phase (Park et al., 2017). Pharmacological treatments, changes in FN density, and substrate topography all affected the fraction of cells exhibiting these behaviours. We use these observations as constraints to test a sequence of hypotheses for how intracellular (GTPase) and ECM signaling jointly regulate lamellipodial dynamics. The models encoding these hypotheses are predicated on mutually antagonistic Rac-Rho signaling, Rac-mediated protrusion (via activation of Arp2/3 actin nucleation) and Rho-mediated contraction (via ROCK phosphorylation of myosin light chain), which are coupled to ECM signaling that is modulated by protrusion/contraction. By testing each model against experimental observations, we identify how the signaling layers interact to generate the diverse range of cell behaviors, and how various molecular perturbations and changes in ECM signaling modulate the fraction of cells exhibiting each. We identify several factors that play distinct but critical roles in generating the observed dynamic: (1) competition between lamellipodia for shared pools of Rac and Rho, (2) activation of RhoA by ECM signaling, and (3) feedback from lamellipodial growth or contraction to cell-ECM contact area and therefore to the ECM signaling level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center