PerspectiveCell Biology

Supracellular contractions propel migration

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Science  19 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6412, pp. 290-291
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav3376

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Summary

Constructing multicellular bodies, starting from a single-cell zygote, often requires the movement of cells across considerable distances, which is achieved through cell migration. During embryonic development, as well as in healing and regeneration, cells travel across diverse terrains, which dictates the character of navigation (1). Cancer cells metastasize and migrate into healthy organs, and knowledge of their migration strategies could be important to identify targets to treat advanced disease (2). Some migratory cells cover large distances individually (3), whereas others migrate in groups, with leaders and followers being directed by chemical signals (chemotaxis) (4, 5). The exchange of information and resulting motility of such groups has been enigmatic. Moreover, the driving force of collective cell migration has been considered a sum of migratory and signaling activities of individually participating cells. However, according to a study on page 339 of this issue by Shellard et al. (6), collective cell migration requires formation of cytoskeletal structures that span through adjoining cells at the rear of a cell group to coordinate, orient, and propel the entire group. This mechanism of collective cell migration could be applicable to cancer metastasis and wound healing and might change our understanding of developmental migration.