Contact inhibition of locomotion (CIL) is the process by which cells in vitro change their direction of migration upon contact with another cell. Here, we revisit the concept that CIL plays a central role in the migration of single cells and in collective migration, during both health and disease. Importantly, malignant cells exhibit a diminished CIL behaviour which allows them to invade healthy tissues. Accumulating evidence indicates that CIL occurs in vivo and that regulation of small Rho GTPases is important in the collapse of cell protrusions upon cell contact, the first step of CIL. Finally, we propose possible cell surface proteins that could be involved in the initial contact that regulates Rho GTPases during CIL.
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