The role of cell contraction and adhesion in dictyostelium motility.
ABSTRACT The crawling motion of Dictyostelium discoideum on substrata involves a number of coordinated events including cell contractions and cell protrusions. The mechanical forces exerted on the substratum during these contractions have recently been quantified using traction force experiments. Based on the results from these experiments, we present a biomechanical model of the contraction phase of Dictyostelium discoideum motility with an emphasis on the adhesive properties of the cell-substratum contact. Our model assumes that the cell contracts at a constant rate and is bound to the substratum by adhesive bridges that are modeled as elastic springs. These bridges are established at a spatially uniform rate while detachment occurs at a spatially varying, load-dependent rate. Using Monte Carlo simulations and assuming a rigid substratum, we find that the cell speed depends only weakly on the detachment kinetics of the cell-substratum interface, in agreement with experimental data. By varying the parameters that control the adhesive and contractile properties of the cell, we are able to make testable predictions. We also extend our model to include a flexible substrate and show that our model is able to produce substratum deformations and force patterns that are quantitatively and qualitatively in agreement with experimental data.
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ABSTRACT: Many eukaryotic cells are able to crawl on surfaces and guide their motility based on environmental cues. These cues are interpreted by signaling systems which couple to cell mechanics; indeed membrane protrusions in crawling cells are often accompanied by activated membrane patches, which are localized areas of increased concentration of one or more signaling components. To determine how these patches are related to cell motion, we examine the spatial localization of RasGTP in chemotaxing Dictyostelium discoideum cells under conditions where the vertical extent of the cell was restricted. Quantitative analyses of the data reveal a high degree of spatial correlation between patches of activated Ras and membrane protrusions. Based on these findings, we formulate a model for amoeboid cell motion that consists of two coupled modules. The first module utilizes a recently developed two-component reaction diffusion model that generates transient and localized areas of elevated concentration of one of the components along the membrane. The activated patches determine the location of membrane protrusions (and overall cell motion) that are computed in the second module, which also takes into account the cortical tension and the availability of protrusion resources. We show that our model is able to produce realistic amoeboid-like motion and that our numerical results are consistent with experimentally observed pseudopod dynamics. Specifically, we show that the commonly observed splitting of pseudopods can result directly from the dynamics of the signaling patches.PLoS Computational Biology 06/2011; 7(6):e1002044. · 5.22 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Living cells of many types need to move in response to external stimuli in order to accomplish their functional tasks; these tasks range from wound healing to immune response to fertilization. While the directional motion is typically dictated by an external signal, the actual motility is also restricted by physical constraints, such as the presence of other cells and the extracellular matrix. The ability to successfully navigate in the presence of obstacles is not only essential for organisms, but might prove relevant in the study of autonomous robotic motion. We study a computational model of amoeboid chemotactic navigation under differing conditions, from motion in an obstacle-free environment to navigation between obstacles and finally to moving in a maze. We use the maze as a simple stand-in for a motion task with severe constraints, as might be expected in dense extracellular matrix. Whereas agents using simple chemotaxis can successfully navigate around small obstacles, the presence of large barriers can often lead to agent trapping. We further show that employing a simple memory mechanism, namely secretion of a repulsive chemical by the agent, helps the agent escape from such trapping. Our main conclusion is that cells employing simple chemotactic strategies will often be unable to navigate through maze-like geometries, but a simple chemical marker mechanism (which we refer to as "self-assistance") significantly improves success rates. This realization provides important insights into mechanisms that might be employed by real cells migrating in complex environments as well as clues for the design of robotic navigation strategies. The results can be extended to more complicated multi-cellular systems and can be used in the study of mammalian cell migration and cancer metastasis.PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(8):e21955. · 4.09 Impact Factor