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Stick-slip dynamics of cell adhesion triggers spontaneous symmetry breaking and directional migration of mesenchymal cells on one-dimensional lines

Abstract : Directional cell motility relies on the ability of single cells to establish a front-rear polarity and can occur in the absence of external cues. The initiation of migration has often been attributed to the spontaneous polarization of cytoskeleton components, while the spatiotemporal evolution of cell-substrate interaction forces has yet to be resolved. Here, we establish a one-dimensional microfabricated migration assay that mimics the complex in vivo fibrillar environment while being compatible with high-resolution force measurements, quantitative microscopy, and optogenetics. Quantification of morphometric and mechanical parameters of NIH-3T3 fibro-blasts and RPE1 epithelial cells 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 trigger cell motility in 1D in the absence of pre-established polarity. A theoretical model validates the crucial role of adhesion dynamics, proposing that front-rear polarity can emerge independently of a complex self-polarizing system.
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K. Hennig, I. Wang, P. Moreau, L. Valon, S. Debeco, et al.. Stick-slip dynamics of cell adhesion triggers spontaneous symmetry breaking and directional migration of mesenchymal cells on one-dimensional lines. Science Advances , American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2020, 6 (1), pp.eaau5670. ⟨10.1126/sciadv.aau5670⟩. ⟨hal-02465034⟩

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