Self-generated chemotaxis; or how cells shape their own gradients

28 July 2017

Robert Insall
Beatson Institute, Glasgow


Everyone knows that chemotaxis is fundamentally important in normal embryogenesis, growth, immune responses and in pathologies like cancer metastasis. Considering this, there is remarkably little understanding of where chemotactic gradients come from. In this talk I will describe how we have come to believe that cells shape such gradients themselves – or even create them from scratch, in many cases. The talk will focus on the different ways of approaching self-generated gradients, in particular using finite-element computational models and microscopy in custom-built chemotaxis chambers, but also analytical math and mass spectrometry. It will also cover the surprisingly fundamental differences between self-generated and externally-created gradients, and how even single cells can change the attractant gradients they perceive. I hope to leave you seeing spatial signalling in a different, more nuanced light.

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