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The interplay of tissue architecture and cell signaling to coordinate collective cell migration dynamics

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MMVW02 - Collective Behaviour

Accurate and on-time cell migration is required for animals to develop normally and for various functions in adults, such as wound healing and immune response. Motile cells use intrinsic genetic information to interpret external cues, which include physical pathways and chemical signals that guide directional movements and provide temporal information. The responses to this information are highly conserved between many cell types and have been well studied. However, we do not understand how the physical structures of developing tissues- which are highly dynamic and heterogenous – impact signaling and cell movement. A cluster of cells called border cells, which arise in the developing Drosophila (fruit fly) ovary, provide an excellent platform for investigating how cell migration is controlled. Through a combination of in vivo imaging, genetic analysis, and mathematical modeling, we and others have identified the minimal signaling networks controlling a switch from non-motile to motile cell identity, the critical forces that capture the cell cluster behaviors, and the physical constraints that affect cluster shape and motility. Currently, we are exploring the impact of tissue architecture on diffusible signal distribution, which appears to influence both motile cell specification and directional movement, and we aim to identify emergent properties that apply to motile cell clusters in other contexts. 

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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