Collective guidance of collective cell migration

Trends Cell Biol. 2007 Dec;17(12):575-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2007.09.007. Epub 2007 Nov 8.


Some cells migrate and find their way as solitary entities. However, during development of multicellular animals and possibly during tumor dissemination, cells often move as groups, associated tightly or loosely. Recent advances in live imaging have aided examination of such 'multicellular cell biology'. Here, I propose a model for how a group of cells can process and react to guidance information as a unit rather than as a gathering of solitary cells. Signaling pathways and regulatory mechanisms can differ substantially between solitary- and collective-guidance modes; a major difference being that, in collective guidance, similar to in bacterial chemotaxis, the signal need not be localized subcellularly within the responding cell. I suggest that collective-guidance signaling occurs alongside individual cell reactions. Both produce directional migration.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Chemotaxis / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Protein Kinases