On multistability and constitutive relations of cell motion on Fibronectin lanes


  • B. Amiri
  • J.C.J. Heyn
  • C. Schreiber
  • J.O. Rädler
  • M. Falcke


  • Biophysical Journal


  • Biophys J 122 (5): 753-766


  • Cell motility on flat substrates exhibits coexisting steady and oscillatory morphodynamics, the biphasic adhesion-velocity relation, and the universal correlation between speed and persistence (UCSP) as simultaneous observations common to many cell types. Their universality and concurrency suggest a unifying mechanism causing all three of them. Stick-slip models for cells on 1dimensional lanes suggest multistability to arise from the non-linear friction of retrograde flow. This study suggests a mechanical mechanism controlled by integrin signalling on the basis of a biophysical model and analysis of trajectories of MDA-MB-231 cells on Fibronectin lanes which additionally explains the constitutive relations. The experiments exhibit cells with steady or oscillatory morphodynamics and either spread or moving with spontaneous transitions between the dynamic regimes, spread and moving and spontaneous direction reversals. Our biophysical model is based on the force balance at the protrusion edge, the noisy clutch of retrograde flow and a response function of friction and membrane drag to integrin signaling. The theory reproduces the experimentally observed cell states, characteristics of oscillations and state probabilities. Analysis of experiments with the biophysical model establishes a stick-slip oscillation mechanism, explains multistability of cell states and the statistics of state transitions. It suggests protrusion competition to cause direction reversal events, the statistics of which explain the UCSP. The effect of integrin signalling on drag and friction explains the adhesion-velocity relation and cell behavior at Fibronectin density steps. The dynamics of our mechanism are non-linear flow mechanics driven by F-actin polymerization and shaped by the noisy clutch of retrograde flow friction, protrusion competition via membrane tension and drag forces. Integrin signalling controls the parameters of the mechanical system.