Bimodal Analysis of Mammary Epithelial Cell Migration in Two Dimensions

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Abstract

Cell migration paths of mammary epithelial cells (expressing different versions of the promigratory tyrosine kinase receptor Her2/Neu) were analyzed within a bimodal framework that is a generalization of the run-and-tumble description applicable to bacterial migration. The mammalian cell trajectories were segregated into two types of alternating modes, namely, the “directional mode” (mode I, the more persistent mode, analogous to the bacterial run phase) and the “re-orientation mode” (mode II, the less persistent mode, analogous to the bacterial tumble phase). Higher resolution (more pixel information, relative to cell size) and smaller sampling intervals (time between images) were found to give a better estimate of the deduced single cell dynamics (such as directional-mode time and turn angle distribution) of the various cell types from the bimodal analysis. The bimodal analysis tool permits the deduction of short-time dynamics of cell motion such as the turn angle distributions and turn frequencies during the course of cell migration compared to standard methods of cell migration analysis. We find that the 2-h mammalian cell tracking data do not fall into the diffusive regime implying that the often-used random motility expressions for mammalian cell motion (based on assuming diffusive motion) are invalid over the time steps (fraction of minute) typically used in modeling mammalian cell migration.

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