Cells move when ions and water flow

Pflugers Arch. 2007 Jan;453(4):421-32. doi: 10.1007/s00424-006-0138-6. Epub 2006 Oct 5.


Cell migration is a process that plays an important role throughout the entire life span. It starts early on during embryogenesis and contributes to shaping our body. Migrating cells are involved in maintaining the integrity of our body, for instance, by defending it against invading pathogens. On the other side, migration of tumor cells may have lethal consequences when tumors spread metastatically. Thus, there is a strong interest in unraveling the cellular mechanisms underlying cell migration. The purpose of this review is to illustrate the functional importance of ion and water channels as part of the cellular migration machinery. Ion and water flow is required for optimal migration, and the inhibition or genetic ablation of channels leads to a marked impairment of migration. We briefly touch cytoskeletal mechanisms of migration as well as cell-matrix interactions. We then present some general principles by which channels can affect cell migration before we discuss each channel group separately.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Water / metabolism*
  • Water / physiology


  • Ion Channels
  • Water