Physical influences of the extracellular environment on cell migration

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Dec;15(12):813-24. doi: 10.1038/nrm3897. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


The way in which a cell migrates is influenced by the physical properties of its surroundings, in particular the properties of the extracellular matrix. How the physical aspects of the cell's environment affect cell migration poses a considerable challenge when trying to understand migration in complex tissue environments and hinders the extrapolation of in vitro analyses to in vivo situations. A comprehensive understanding of these problems requires an integrated biochemical and biophysical approach. In this Review, we outline the findings that have emerged from approaches that span these disciplines, with a focus on actin-based cell migration in environments with different stiffness, dimensionality and geometry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Humans