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Do cells migrate in a body?

  1. Jan 30, 2017 #1
    Once cells in the body "find their place" between other neighboring cells, do they stay there touching each other in the same way or do they move around, migrating, sliding around with their membranes? Can a cell just "take off"?
    I wonder the same about neuron cells and their axons and dendrites connections.
    Any research out there on this that anyone knows of?
    I appreciate any thoughts!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2017 #2
    Well my opinion if the cell fits the place because it was functioned to fit in there, then the cells will stay.
    Correct me if i'm wrong
  4. Jan 31, 2017 #3


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    Generally cells stay put.
    However, during vertebrate gastrulation (in embryonic development), lots of cells move around. These movements set up the three primary embryonic layers (endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm). These movements are often movements of masses of cells where most of the cells stay near most of their neighbors.

    When the neural plate (CNS precursor) is set-up, the neural crest cells form. They can migrate extensively and form a large number of derivatives throughout the body.

    Many immune cells, also wander all over the body looking for things that don't belong in the body.

    Some neuron cell bodies also migrate (such as cerebellar granular cells, trochlear nerve motor neurons).
    Neuron axons and dendrites also migrate away from their cell body, while retaining a connection to it. They use growth cones to do this which are kind of like mini-moving cells.
  5. Jan 31, 2017 #4


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    One of the interesting properties of cancer cells is that they undergo something called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), where their cell-cell adhesion properties change. There is a lot of interest in this area because when the cancer cells loose this adhesion they can migrate out of the tumour and invade other areas (metatstasis).
  6. Jan 31, 2017 #5
    Thanks for all your responses!

    Basically, unless the cell is in development, or coded to move around due to its role in the organism, or if it is a cancerous cell invading the body, many cells, once they are developed tend to stay where they were assigned to stay.

    And thanks for the cell adhesion reference, sounds like once that adhesion is in place, it is essential to signal transduction for the cells. Additionally, cytoskeleton anchors seem to also keep things in place.

    All in all, it doesn't sound like, for example, a skin cell would just randomly decide to move down the finger and "decide" to continue its healthy functioning on the neighboring knuckle. This seems to be more of an unhealthy, cancerous behavior for an established cell in a body.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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