Jump to main content
Jump to site search


Quantitative investigation of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell motility: dependence on epidermal growth factor concentration and its gradient

Author affiliations

Abstract

Enhanced cell motility is one of the primary features of cancer. Accumulated evidence demonstrates that Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) mediated pathways play an important role in breast cancer cell proliferation and migration. We have quantified the MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell migration in response to the stimulation of EGFR pathways with their ligand EGF to determine how the cell motility of MDA-MB-231 cells depends on the ligand concentration and gradient. Analysis at the single cell level combined with mathematical modeling and the ability to vary the ligand concentration and gradients locally using microfluidic devices allowed us to separate the unique contributions of ligand concentration and ligand gradient to cell motility. We tracked the motility of 6600 cells individually using time lapse imaging under varying EGF stimulation conditions. Trajectory analysis of the tracked cells using non-linear multivariate regression models showed that: (i) cell migration of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells depends on the ligand gradient but not on the ligand concentration. This observation was valid for both the total (direction independent) and directed (along gradient direction) cell velocities. Although the dependence of the directed motility on ligand gradient is to be expected, the dependence of the total velocity solely on ligand gradient was an unexpected novel observation. (ii) Enhancement of the motilities of individual cells in a population upon exposure to the ligand was highly heterogeneous, and only a very small percentage of cells responded strongly to the external stimuli. Separating out the non-responding cells using quantitative analysis of individual cell motilities enabled us to establish that enhanced motility of the responding cells indeed increases monotonically with increasing EGF gradient. (iii) A large proportion of cells in a population were unresponsive to ligand stimulation, and their presence introduced considerable random intrinsic variability to the observations. This indicated that studying cell motilities at the individual cell level is necessary to better capture the biological reality and that population averaging methods should be avoided. Studying motilities at the individual cell level is particularly important to understand the biological processes that are possibly driven by the action of a small portion of cells in a population, such as metastasis. We discuss the implications of our results on the total and chemotactic movement of cancer cells in the tumor microenvironment.

Graphical abstract: Quantitative investigation of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell motility: dependence on epidermal growth factor concentration and its gradient

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 28 Jun 2017, accepted on 21 Jul 2017 and first published on 02 Aug 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7MB00390K
Citation: Mol. BioSyst., 2017, Advance Article
  •   Request permissions

    Quantitative investigation of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell motility: dependence on epidermal growth factor concentration and its gradient

    T. Islam and H. Resat, Mol. BioSyst., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7MB00390K

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements