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(77g) Metastatic Cancer Cells Optimize Space-Searching

Authors: 
Huda, S., Northwestern University
Soh, S., Northwestern University
Pilans, D., Northwestern University
Tretiakov, K., Northwestern University
Kandere-Grzybowska, K., Northwestern University
Grzybowski, B., Northwestern University


Cell motility is integral to cancer metastasis. Developing new therapeutics to target the motility process requires the study of the molecular processes involved in cell motility. We have developed a novel class of cell biology tools for the quantification of cytoskeletal organization and dynamics in populations of cancerous cells with low variability. Anisotropic Solid Microetching (ASoMiC) was used to constrain cells onto transparent linear tracks. This methodology creates a micro-environment resembling in vivo conditions and is conducive for studying cell motility in molecular detail.

By constraining cells to 1-D tracks we found that metastatic cells were “superdiffusive” vs. “diffusive” non-metastatic cells. This reveals that metastatic cells are moving faster and more persistently than non-metastatic cells. More importantly, the superdiffusive behavior of metastatic cells arises from executing Lévy walks – which is an optimal search strategy.

Our study highlights that metastatic and non-metastatic cells are intrinsically different in their motility strategy. By understanding these differences we hope to identify new therapeutic targets for the treatment of metastatic cancer.