25 January 2011, 2 pm
During a wide variety of tissue remodelling events including embryonic morphogenesis, wound repair and tumour metastases, cohesive groups of cells move together as a unit. For example, epidermal cells surrounding a skin wound collectively migrate into it to seal the defect; similarly, a new blood vessel branch sprouts out by the coordinated movement of the cells constituting it. Understanding the mechanisms of these collective cell migrations is therefore of great importance, both at a fundamental cell biology level, and clinically, because it could reveal a common principle that underpins diverse biological phenomena, and it will be the basis of novel therapeutics aiming at, e.g., acceleration of wound healing or inhibition of cancer metastases. However, it is still largely unknown how the movement of entire cell group is coordinated to achieve proper tissue remodelling. To address this question, we have designed a novel image subtraction method with which we can visualise collective cell mobilisation as a "white wave" propagating in a cell sheet. This method reveals how cells are mobilised and join the stream of collectively migrating cell cohorts, and enables us to analyse the mechanism of collective cell movement. I would also like to discuss how the collective behaviours of cells can be mathematically modelled, and what new predictions can be drawn from this modelling. At the beginning of the seminar, general introductions to the biology of collective cell migration will be given.