Understanding the mechanisms of collective cell migration is crucial for cancer metastasis, wound healing and many developmental processes. Imaging a migrating cluster in vivo is feasible, but the quantification of individual cell behaviours remains challenging. We have developed an image analysis toolkit, CCMToolKit, to quantify the Drosophila border cell system. In addition to chaotic motion, previous studies reported that the migrating cells are able to migrate in a highly coordinated pattern. We quantify the rotating and running migration modes in 3D while also observing a range of intermediate behaviours. Running mode is driven by cluster external protrusions. Rotating mode is associated with cluster internal cell extensions that could not be easily characterized. Although the cluster moves slower while rotating, individual cells retain their mobility and are in fact slightly more active than in running mode. We also show that individual cells may exchange positions during migration.
Nature Communications, 2017 Apr 4;8:14905. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14905
Date of acceptance