This gave Cummings and his colleagues a new perspective on the cell movements that they were observing in the microscope. They adopted the basic assumption that when mammalian cells migrate they face problems, such as efficiently finding randomly distributed targets like nutrients and growth factors, that are analogous to those faced by single-celled organisms foraging for food.
With this perspective in mind, Alka Potdar, now a post-doctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, cultured cells from three human mammary epithelial cell lines on two-dimensional plastic plates and tracked the cell motions for two-hour periods in a "random migration" environment free of any directional chemical signals. Epithelial cells are found throughout the body lining organs and covering external surfaces. They move relatively slowly, at about a micron per minute which corresponds to two thousandths of an inch per hour.
When Potdar carefully analyzed these cell movements, she found that they all followed the same pattern. However, it was not the Lvy walk that they expected, but a closely related search pattern called a bimodal correlated random walk (BCRW). This is a two-phase movement: a run phase in which the cell travels primarily in one direction and a re-orientation phase in which it stays in place and reorganizes itself internally to move in a new direction.
In subsequent studies, currently in press, the researchers have found that several other cell types (social amoeba, neutrophils, fibrosarcoma) also follow the same pattern in random migration conditions. They have also found that the cells continue to follow this same basic pattern when a directional chemical si
|Contact: David F. Salisbury|