Understanding Leader Cells In Cell Migration

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Pak Kin Wong Ph.D.
Aerospace& Mechanical Engineering Department Biomedical Engineering and Bio5 Institute
The University of Arizona

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Collective cell migration is central to various (patho)physiological processes, such as tissue development, regeneration, and cancer metastasis. At the onset of the process, a subset of cells acquires distinct leader cell phenotypes in the initially homogeneous population and leads the migration. However, how leader cells are initiated among the initial homogeneous population and how leader cell density is regulated during collective migration remain unknown. In this study, we demonstrate the formation of leader cells is regulated dynamically by Dll4 signaling through Notch1 and cellular stress near the leading edge. Our finding provides a molecular basis for the stochastic emergence of leader cells, a process originally considered random.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Our findings demonstrate the importance of cell-cell coordination and mechanoregulation in various physiological and pathological processes. The results will have important implication in various tissue development, regeneration and disease conditions. For instance, regulating leader cells may lead to novel strategies in engineering tissue constructs, improve the treatment of non-healing diabetic wounds, and develop novel drug targets for inhibiting cancer metastasis. In fact, we are currently expanding the work to regulate capillary morphogenesis, a key requirement in tissue engineering, diabetic wounding and cancer metastasis.


Notch1–​Dll4 signalling and mechanical force regulate leader cell formation during collective cell migration
Reza Riahi, Jian Sun, Shue Wang, Min Long, Donna D. Zhang & Pak Kin Wong

Nature Communications 6,Article number: 6556 doi:10.1038/ncomms7556
Published 13 March 2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Pak Kin Wong Ph.D. (2015). Understanding Leader Cells In Cell Migration