Biased migration of confined neutrophil-like cells in asymmetric hydraulic environments. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cells integrate multiple measurement modalities to navigate their environment. Soluble and substrate-bound chemical gradients and physical cues have all been shown to influence cell orientation and migration. Here we investigate the role of asymmetric hydraulic pressure in directional sensing. Cells confined in microchannels identified and chose a path of lower hydraulic resistance in the absence of chemical cues. In a bifurcating channel with asymmetric hydraulic resistances, this choice was preceded by the elaboration of two leading edges with a faster extension rate along the lower resistance channel. Retraction of the "losing" edge appeared to precipitate a final choice of direction. The pressure differences altering leading edge protrusion rates were small, suggesting weak force generation by leading edges. The response to the physical asymmetry was able to override a dynamically generated chemical cue. Motile cells may use this bias as a result of hydraulic resistance, or "barotaxis," in concert with chemotaxis to navigate complex environments.

publication date

  • December 24, 2013