Cell migration

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Cell migration refers to the movement of cells from one area to another. This process is essential for a variety of biological functions, including embryogenesis, wound healing, and immune response. Cell migration plays a critical role in both normal physiological processes and pathological conditions such as cancer metastasis and inflammation.

Mechanisms of Cell Migration[edit | edit source]

Cell migration is a complex process that involves several steps and mechanisms. The primary mechanisms include:

  • Chemotaxis: Movement of cells in response to a chemical stimulus. Chemokines and other signaling molecules can attract or repel cells, guiding their movement.
  • Haptotaxis: Migration towards higher concentrations of adhesion molecules. Cells move along a substrate by attaching to and detaching from specific molecules.
  • Electrotaxis: Also known as galvanotaxis, this refers to the movement of cells in response to an electric field.
  • Mechanotaxis: Cell movement directed by mechanical cues or forces, such as stiffness of the surrounding environment.

Cell Migration Process[edit | edit source]

The process of cell migration typically involves several key steps:

1. Polarization: The cell becomes polarized, with the formation of a leading edge and a trailing edge. 2. Protrusion: The leading edge of the cell extends forward through the formation of lamellipodia (broad, sheet-like extensions) or filopodia (thin, finger-like extensions). 3. Adhesion: The cell forms temporary attachments to the substrate through integrins and other adhesion molecules. 4. Translocation: The cell body moves forward, driven by the contraction of actin filaments. 5. Detachment: The trailing edge of the cell detaches from the substrate, allowing the cell to move forward.

Regulation of Cell Migration[edit | edit source]

Cell migration is tightly regulated by a complex network of signals that control the assembly and disassembly of the cytoskeleton, the formation of cell-substrate adhesions, and the generation of forces necessary for movement. Key regulators include:

  • Growth factors: Such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF), which can stimulate cell migration.
  • Extracellular matrix (ECM) components: Including fibronectin, collagen, and laminin, which provide a scaffold for cell movement.
  • Cell adhesion molecules: Such as integrins, which mediate the attachment and detachment of cells to and from the ECM.
  • Cytoskeletal proteins: Including actin and microtubules, which are essential for the formation of protrusions and the generation of locomotive force.

Cell Migration in Disease[edit | edit source]

Aberrant cell migration is implicated in a variety of diseases:

  • In cancer, tumor cells can migrate from the primary site to distant organs, a process known as metastasis.
  • Inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, involve the migration of immune cells to sites of inflammation.
  • Impaired wound healing can result from dysfunctional migratory responses of cells involved in tissue repair.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Cell migration is a fundamental biological process that is essential for life. Understanding the mechanisms and regulation of cell migration can provide insights into a wide range of physiological processes and diseases. Ongoing research in this field continues to uncover the complex interplay of signals that govern cell movement, offering potential targets for therapeutic intervention in disease.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD