3D cell motility

Cell migration is important for various biological processes, such as embryogenesis, wound healing, inflammatory response, and cancer  metastasis. Much of what we know about cell migration has stemmed from studies  performed on flat two-dimensional (2D) substrates, but cell migration in vivo predominantly occurs through three-dimensional (3D) matrices and not much is known about what molecules matter, how cells interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM), how cells sense and navigate the ECM etc. In the wirtz lab, we are making strides towards understanding this complex and intricate cellular process.

HT1080 cells inside collagen I matrix. Microtubule is stained in red, Actin in green, and nucleus in blue


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Fraley, S. I., Y. F. Feng, et al. Reply: reducing background fluorescence reveals adhesions in 3D matrices. Nature Cell Biology 13(1): 5-U254.  (2011).

Fraley, S.I., Feng, Y., Giri, A., Longmore, G.D. & Wirtz, D. Dimensional and temporal controls of three-dimensional cell migration by zyxin and binding partners. Nature communications 3, 719 (2012).

Khatau, S. B., R. J. Bloom, et al. The distinct roles of the nucleus and nucleus-cytoskeleton connections in three-dimensional cell migration. Scientific Reports (2012).

Giri, A. et al. The Arp2/3 complex mediates multigeneration dendritic protrusions for efficient 3-dimensional cancer cell migration. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2013).

Wu, P.H. et al Three-dimensional cell migration does not follow a random walk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2014).