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The impact of adhesion on cellular invasion processes in cancer and development

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Kevin J Painter
  • Nicola J Armstrong
  • Jonathan A Sherratt

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-67
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2010


In this paper we consider a simple continuous model to describe cell invasion, incorporating the effects of both cell-cell adhesion and cell-matrix adhesion, along with cell growth and proteolysis by cells of the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM). We demonstrate that the model is capable of supporting both noninvasive and invasive tumour growth according to the relative strength of cell-cell to cell-matrix adhesion. Specifically, for sufficiently strong cell-matrix adhesion and/or sufficiently weak cell-cell adhesion, degradation of the surrounding ECM accompanied by cell-matrix adhesion pulls the cells into the surrounding ECM. We investigate the criticality of matrix heterogeneity on shaping invasion, demonstrating that a highly heterogeneous ECM can result in a "fingering" of the invasive front, echoing observations in real-life invasion processes ranging from malignant tumour growth to neural crest migration during embryonic development.

    Research areas

  • Algorithms, Animals, Cell Adhesion, Cell Movement, Cell Proliferation, Extracellular Matrix, Humans, Models, Biological, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Neoplasms

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