Standard Article

Cell Migration

  1. Xavier Trepat1,2,
  2. Zaozao Chen3,4,
  3. Ken Jacobson3,5

Published Online: 1 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c110012

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Trepat, X., Chen, Z. and Jacobson, K. 2012. Cell Migration. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:2369–2392.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

  2. 2

    Institucio Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Universitat de Barcelona, and GIBER Enfermedades Respiratorias, Barcelona, Spain

  3. 3

    Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  4. 4

    Program in Molecular and Cellular Biophysics, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  5. 5

    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 OCT 2012


Cell migration is fundamental to establishing and maintaining the proper organization of multicellular organisms. Morphogenesis can be viewed as a consequence, in part, of cell locomotion, from large-scale migrations of epithelial sheets during gastrulation, to the movement of individual cells during development of the nervous system. In an adult organism, cell migration is essential for proper immune response, wound repair, and tissue homeostasis, while aberrant cell migration is found in various pathologies. Indeed, as our knowledge of migration increases, we can look forward to, for example, abating the spread of highly malignant cancer cells, retarding the invasion of white cells in the inflammatory process, or enhancing the healing of wounds. This article is organized in two main sections. The first section is devoted to the single-cell migrating in isolation such as occurs when leukocytes migrate during the immune response or when fibroblasts squeeze through connective tissue. The second section is devoted to cells collectively migrating as part of multicellular clusters or sheets. This second type of migration is prevalent in development, wound healing, and in some forms of cancer metastasis. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:2369-2392, 2012.