Directed Migration and Signal Relay in Dictyostelium Aggregation
Directed Migration of cells is vital to a wide array of biological processes: from the coordinated migration of cells during embryo development to the uncontrollable migration of a metastatic cancer. We investigate directed cell migration in the model organism Dictyostelium aiming to understand the underlying biophysics of their motion, their direction, and the coordination among cell groups. The problem of directed cell migration is often broken into three independent modules: a compass, propulsion, and cell-to-cell signaling. Applying principles from nonlinear dynamics, we explore the cross coordination of these modules by perturbing one and finding impact on the others. Our results indicate that the modules are closely linked: Changes in signal relay can lead to a dramatic increase in cell speed, and cell-surface adhesion affects group behavior. Considering all modules together allows us to utilize more information and move toward quantitative descriptions of key aspects of the cell-cell signaling and propulsion modules.