Dynamics of motile forces and symmetry breaking in the migrating cell

Abstract : Directional cell motility during organism and tissue development, homeostasis and disease requires symmetry breaking. This process relies on the ability of single cells to establish a front-rear polarity, and can occur in absence of external cues. The initiation of migration has been attributed to the spontaneous polarization of cytoskeleton components, while the spatio- temporal evolution of cytoskeletal forces arising from continuous mechanical cell-substrate interaction has yet to be resolved. Here, we establish a one- dimensional microfabricated migration assay that mimics complex in vivo fibrillar environment while being compatible with high-resolution force measurements, quantitative microscopy, and optogenetics. Quantification of morphometric and mechanical parameters reveals a generic stick-slip behavior initiated by contractility-dependent stochastic detachment of adhesive contacts at one side of the cell, which is sufficient to drive directional cell motility in absence of pre-established cytoskeleton polarity or morphogen gradients. A theoretical model validates the crucial role of adhesion dynamics during spontaneous symmetry breaking, proposing that the examined phenomenon can emerge independently of a complex self-polarizing system.
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Katharina Hennig. Dynamics of motile forces and symmetry breaking in the migrating cell. Cellular Biology. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAY040⟩. ⟨tel-02017477⟩

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