Cell migration plays a pivotal role in many physiologically important processes such as embryogenesis, wound-healing, immune defense, and cancer metastasis. Although much effort has been directed toward motility of individual cells, the mechanisms underpinning collective cell migration remain poorly understood. Here we develop a collective motility model that incorporates cell mechanics and persistent random motions of individual cells to study coherent migratory motions in epithelial-like monolayers. This model, in absence of any external chemical signals, is able to explain coordinate rotational motion seen in systems ranging from two adherent cells to multicellular assemblies. We show that the competition between the active persistent force and random polarization fluctuation is responsible for the robust rotation. Passive mechanical coupling between cells is necessary but active chemical signaling between cells is not. The predicted angular motions also depend on the geometrical shape of the underlying substrate: cells exhibit collective rotation on circular substrates, but display linear back-and-forth motion on long and narrow substrates.
Li, B., & Sun, S. X. (2014). Coherent motions in confluent cell monolayer sheets. Biophysical Journal, 107(7), 1532–1541. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2014.08.006