Instantaneous cell migration velocity may be ill-defined

Cell crawling is critical to biological development, homeostasis and disease. In many cases, cell trajectories are quasi-random-walk. In vitro assays on flat surfaces often described such quasi-random-walk cell trajectories as approximations to a solution of a Langevin process. However, experiments show quasi-diffusive behavior at small timescales, indicating that instantaneous velocity and velocity autocorrelations are not well-defined. We propose to characterize mean-squared cell displacement using a modified Fürth equation with three temporal and spatial regimes: short- and long-time/range diffusion and intermediate time/range ballistic motion. This analysis collapses mean-squared displacements of previously published experimental data onto a single-parameter family of curves, allowing direct comparison between movement in different cell types, and between experiments and numerical simulations. Our method also show that robust cell-motility quantification requires an experiment with a maximum interval between images of a few percent of the cell-motion persistence time or less, and a duration of a few orders-of-magnitude longer than the cell-motion persistence time or more.

Publication Date:
Oct 08 2018
Date Submitted:
Jul 01 2019
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 Record created 2019-07-01, last modified 2019-08-06

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