Collective Chemotaxis through Noisy Multicellular Gradient Sensing

Research I conducted in conjunction with Prof. Andrew Mugler and Prof. Bumsoo Han has been published today in Biophysical Journal. The paper, Collective Chemotaxis through Noisy Multicellular Gradient Sensing , examines how cell-cell communication can enable a cluster of cells to successfully migrate in response to chemoattractant.

Below, a simulation of communication-aided collective chemotaxis in response to a chemical concentration that increases from left to right. Each shape represents a cell, and its arrow represents its polarization.

This work was motivated by recent experiments which show that clusters of cells can chemotax in response to signals too weak for single cells to detect. We develop a model which aims to explain how clusters can detect such weak chemical signals and in turn use that information to direct their motion. We then examine how the strength of communication between cells and the number of cells in a cluster affects migration behavior.

The paper was published to Biophysical Journal, and the video above was featured on the front page of their website. A pre-print of the article can be found here on the arxiv. The source code for the simulations conducted for this study is freely available on GitHub.

Written on August 9, 2016