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Maze solving by cancer cells, no external cues

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Published on Nov 20, 2011

Stopping the formation of metastasis is an extremely challenging task, and one reason for this may have to do with the ability of cancer cells to orient autonomously. We have recently found that cancer cells, like the one in this movie, can move along the shortest path to exit microscopic mazes, in the absence of any external cue e.g. a chemical gradient imposed from the outside. Instead, our evidence suggests that epithelial cells can employ a previously unknown guidance mechanism for orientation when confined in small spaces. Epithelial cells uptake epidermal growth factor (EGF) at rates faster than the diffusion-driven flux through the channels. The resulting biochemical gradients guide their migration along the shortest path to exit confinement. For more information, read our published results at http://goo.gl/pP8qa (Integrative Biology, February 2012). Details for this movie: Lung cancer cell line PC9, GFP tubulin, 12 × 12 µm cross section channels, time-lapse imaging - one frame every 30 minutes, total time 10 hours, field of view approximately 600 × 600µm.

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