(447g) Invited Speaker: Mechanisms of Metastatic Cell-Decision Making during Migration on Complex Microenvironments

Reinhart-King, C., Vanderbilt University
During metastasis, cancer cells navigate through the extracellular matrix (ECM), a complex fibrous network, and into a lymph or blood vessel to travel to a secondary site. The physical confinement imposed by the ECM is known to affect cell morphology, adhesion behavior, contractility, and protein expression. However, little is known about how architecture and the mechanical properties of the matrix guide cell movements. A fundamental question is whether cells utilize the same machineries and mechanisms to maneuver through confined versus unconfined spaces, and whether spatial confinements affects migration direction decision-making. In this talk, I will describe my lab’s efforts using microfabrication and native biomaterials to build in vitro mimics of the paths created and taken by cells during metastasis. Using these platforms, we have described a role for cell mechanics in guiding cell movements and migration decisions. I will discuss the mechanical influences at play and the underlying biological mechanisms driving cell movement through the ECM during metastasis