Using Systems Microscopy to Understand the Emergence of Cell Migration from Cell Organization

Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1749:119-134. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7701-7_10.


Cell migration is a dynamic process that emerges from fine-tuned networks coordinated in three-dimensional space, spanning molecular, subcellular, and cellular scales, and over multiple temporal scales, from milliseconds to days. Understanding how cell migration arises from this complexity requires data collection and analyses that quantitatively integrate these spatial and temporal scales. To meet this need, we have combined quantitative live and fixed cell fluorescence microscopy, customized image analysis tools, multivariate statistical methods, and mathematical modeling. Collectively, this constitutes the systems microscopy strategy that we have applied to dissect how cells organize themselves to migrate. In this overview, we highlight key principles, concepts, and components of our systems microscopy methodology, and exemplify what we have learnt so far and where this approach may lead.

Keywords: Cancer cell; Cell migration; Modeling; Quantitative; Statistics; Systems biology; Systems microscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Systems Biology / methods*