Statistical and Biological Physics

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Emergence and Persistence of Collective Cell Migration on Small Circular Micropatterns

Felix J. Segerer, Florian Thüroff, Alicia Piera Alberola, Erwin Frey, Joachim O. Rädler

prl114 The spontaneous formation of vortices is a hallmark of collective cellular activity. We have studied the onset and persistence of coherent angular motion as a function of the number of cells confined in circular micropatterns. We find that the persistence of coherent angular motion increases with the number of cells but exhibits a pronounced discontinuity accompanied by a geometric rearrangement of cells to a configuration containing a central cell. Computer simulations based on a generalized Potts model reproduce the emergence of vortex states and show in agreement with experiment that their stability depends on the interplay of the spatial arrangement and internal polarization of neighboring cells. Hence, the distinct migrational states in finite size ensembles reveal significant insight into the local interaction rules guiding collective migration.