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Biomechanics of Collective Cell Migration in Cancer Progression: Experimental and Computational Methods

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ABSTRACT: Cell migration is essential for regulating many biological processes in physiological or pathological conditions, including embryonic development and cancer invasion. In vitro and in silico studies suggest that collective cell migration is associated with some biomechanical particularities such as restructuring of extracellular matrix (ECM), stress and force distribution profiles, and reorganization of the cytoskeleton. Therefore, the phenomenon could be understood by an indepth study of cells’ behavior determinants, including but not limited to mechanical cues from the environment and from fellow “travelers”. This review article aims to cover the recent development of experimental and computational methods for studying the biomechanics of collective cell migration during cancer progression and invasion. We also summarized the tested hypotheses regarding the mechanism underlying collective cell migration enabled by these methods. Together, the paper enables a broad overview on the methods and tools currently available to unravel the biophysical mechanisms pertinent to cell collective migration as well as providing perspectives on future development toward eventually deciphering the key mechanisms behind the most lethal feature of cancer.

KEYWORDS: cell mechanics, cancer biophysics, unjamming, collective cell dynamics, cancer invasion, epithelial−mesenchymal transition

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.8b01428

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