Quantifying the roles of cell motility and cell proliferation in a circular barrier assay.
Simpson MJ., Treloar KK., Binder BJ., Haridas P., Manton KJ., Leavesley DI., McElwain DLS., Baker RE.
Moving fronts of cells are essential features of embryonic development, wound repair and cancer metastasis. This paper describes a set of experiments to investigate the roles of random motility and proliferation in driving the spread of an initially confined cell population. The experiments include an analysis of cell spreading when proliferation was inhibited. Our data have been analysed using two mathematical models: a lattice-based discrete model and a related continuum partial differential equation model. We obtain independent estimates of the random motility parameter, D, and the intrinsic proliferation rate, λ, and we confirm that these estimates lead to accurate modelling predictions of the position of the leading edge of the moving front as well as the evolution of the cell density profiles. Previous work suggests that systems with a high λ/D ratio will be characterized by steep fronts, whereas systems with a low λ/D ratio will lead to shallow diffuse fronts and this is confirmed in the present study. Our results provide evidence that continuum models, based on the Fisher-Kolmogorov equation, are a reliable platform upon which we can interpret and predict such experimental observations.