Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Moving En Masse

Understanding more about collective cell migration – as in wound healing for example

15 August 2022

Moving En Masse

Getting yourself from A to B is easy. Dragging a crowd with you, less so. Mass migration is complicated. Researchers now investigate the mass migration of wound-healing cells in dishes. Interference reflection microscopy was used to measure how far cells lifted off dishes when moving. These images, combined with computation modelling, created maps of the tension across cells' membranes. Cells at the front (leaders) usually showed the highest membrane tension in their mid-sections. Sometimes, cells behind leaders (followers) didn't stick to the dish and served as bridges between leaders and far-away followers, as captured in a confocal microscopy slice through the cells (pictured) – leaders (top) appear to have no cells immediately behind them as these followers have lifted off the dish. Leaders with non-sticky followers behind them had higher membrane tension at their fronts and slowed down. What followers get up to, therefore, affects how leaders react during mass movements.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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