Prof Nir Gov

Weizmann Institute

One dimensional cell motility patterns

During migration cells exhibit a rich variety of seemingly random migration patterns, which makes unraveling the underlying mechanisms that control cell migration a daunting challenge. For efficient migration cells require a mechanism for polarization, so that traction forces are produced in the direction of motion, while adhesion is released to allow forward migration. To simplify the study of this process cells have been studied when placed along one-dimensional tracks, where single cells exhibit both smooth and stick-slip migration modes. The stick-slip motility mode is characterized by protrusive motion at the cell front, coupled with slow cell elongation, which is followed by rapid retractions of the cell back. In this study, we explore a minimal physical model that couples the force applied on the adhesion bonds to the length variations of the cell and the traction forces applied by the polarized actin retrograde flow. We show that the rich spectrum of cell migration patterns emerges from this model as different deterministic dynamical phases. This result suggests a source for the large cell-to-cell variability (CCV) in cell migration patterns observed in single cells over time and within cell populations. The large heterogeneity can arise from small fluctuations in the cellular components that are greatly amplified due to moving the cells' internal state across the dynamical phase transition lines. Temporal noise is shown to drive random changes in the cellular polarization direction, which is enhanced during the stick-slip migration mode. These results offer a new framework to explain experimental observations of migrating cells, resulting from noisy switching between underlying deterministic migration modes