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By: Elias Barriga
From: Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal
At: [To be announced]
Directed cell migration is essential all along an individual’s life. Nonetheless, and despite its wide biological relevance, we are far from fully understanding how cells attain directionality when moving across complex native environments (in vivo). For many years we have learn how chemical inputs orient single and collective cell motion in convoluted native environments (in vivo). On the other hand, in vitro data shows that physical cues, which are also present in vivo, can also bias the migration of cells. In my talk I will present our data revealing the presence of endogenous electric fields in the migratory path of an embryonic cell population that collectively migrates, the neural crest. I will discuss our results showing that these electrical inputs can guide migration in vivo via collective electrotaxis. In addition, I will talk about our efforts to identify the mechanism of emergence of these electric fields, and the identification of specific electrosensors that allow cells to transform electrical stimuli into a directional cue. More broadly, I will discuss how these bioelectrical observations integrate with our work on mechanical inputs that trigger the migration of cell clusters, and how this mechanoelectrical interplay can coordinate tissue morphogenesis.