T cells in vivo migrate primarily via undirected random walks, but it remains unresolved how these random walks generate an efficient search. Here, we use light sheet microscopy of T cells in the larval zebrafish as a model system to study motility across large populations of cells over hours in their native context. We show that cells do not perform Levy flight; rather, there is substantial cell-to-cell variability in speed, which persists over timespans of a few hours. This variability is amplified by a correlation between speed and directional persistence, generating a characteristic cell behavioral manifold that is preserved under a perturbation to cell speeds, and seen in Mouse T cells and Dictyostelium. Together, these effects generate a broad range of length scales over which cells explore in vivo.
Keywords: T cells; cell motility; light sheet microscopy; persistent random walk; physics of living systems; zebrafish.
© 2020, Jerison and Quake.