Effective Force Generation During Mammalian Cell Migration Under Different Molecular and Physical Mechanisms


Mechanical Engineering

Document Type


Publication Date



We have developed much understanding of actin-driven cell migration and the forces that propel cell motility. However, fewer studies focused on estimating the effective forces generated by migrating cells. Since cells in vivo are exposed to complex physical environments with various barriers, understanding the forces generated by cells will provide insights into how cells manage to navigate challenging environments. In this work, we use theoretical models to discuss actin-driven and water-driven cell migration and the effect of cell shapes on force generation. The results show that the effective force generated by actin-driven cell migration is proportional to the rate of actin polymerization and the strength of focal adhesion; the energy source comes from the actin polymerization against the actin network pressure. The effective force generated by water-driven cell migration is proportional to the rate of active solute flux and the coefficient of external hydraulic resistance; the energy sources come from active solute pumping against the solute concentration gradient. The model further predicts that the actin network distribution is mechanosensitive and the presence of globular actin helps to establish a biphasic cell velocity in the strength of focal adhesion. The cell velocity and effective force generation also depend on the cell shape through the intracellular actin flow field.

Journal Title

Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology

Journal ISSN




Digital Object Identifier (DOI)