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Collective Cell Migration: A Cellular, Molecular & Modelling Approach

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Collective cell migration is a common behaviour observed during normal embryonic development and in pathological conditions, such as cancer metastasis. It corresponds to the coordinated migration of tens or hundreds of cells and has been shown to be more efficient that single cell migration. How this higher efficiency is achieved and the collective behaviour is maintained remains unknown. We have used the migration of neural crest cells, a transient embryonic cell population, to study the biological basis of collective cell migration. Our data show that a balance between cell-cell attraction and cell-cell repulsion is essential for directional collective cell migration.

Here, I will present a parameterized discrete element model of neural crest cells, to investigate how these mechanisms contribute to long-range directional migration. Several predictions of the model are experimentally tested. We conclude that directional migration is an emergent property and does not require action of external signals.


More About the Speaker

Roberto Mayor is a Professor of Developmental and Cellular Neurobiology at University College London, UK. He was named International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He is a member of the editorial board of Development, Developmental Biology, Mechanisms of Development, Developmental Dynamics, etc.; and Associate Editor of BMC Developmental Biology and the International Journal of Developmental Biology. He was founder and president of the Latin American Society of Developmental Biology (LASDB). The primary aim of his research group is to elucidate the mechanism that underlies the development of the Neural Crest. He would like to know how Neural Crest cells acquire their identity within the ectoderm and how their migration and differentiation is controlled. Mayor’s lab has developed a multidisciplinary approach, using techniques and tools from cell and developmental biology, together with techniques from physics and mathematics.

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