Optimal chemotaxis in intermittent migration of animal cells

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2015 Apr;91(4):042720. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.91.042720. Epub 2015 Apr 30.


Animal cells can sense chemical gradients without moving and are faced with the challenge of migrating towards a target despite noisy information on the target position. Here we discuss optimal search strategies for a chaser that moves by switching between two phases of motion ("run" and "tumble"), reorienting itself towards the target during tumble phases, and performing persistent migration during run phases. We show that the chaser average run time can be adjusted to minimize the target catching time or the spatial dispersion of the chasers. We obtain analytical results for the catching time and for the spatial dispersion in the limits of small and large ratios of run time to tumble time and scaling laws for the optimal run times. Our findings have implications for optimal chemotactic strategies in animal cell migration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemotaxis*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Models, Biological