Cell movement is a complex phenomenon primarily driven by the actin network beneath the cell membrane, and can be divided into three general components: protrusion of the leading edge of the cell, adhesion of the leading edge and deadhesion at the cell body and rear, and cytoskeletal contraction to pull the cell forward. Each of these steps is driven by physical forces generated by unique segments of the cytoskeleton. This review examines the specific physics underlying these phases of cell movement and the origins of the forces that drive locomotion. Cell movement or motility is a highly dynamic phenomenon that is essential to a variety of biological processes such as the development of an organism (morphogenesis), wound healing, cancer metastasis and immune response. For example, during morphogenesis there is a targeted movement of dividing cells to specific sites to form tissues and organs. For wound healing to occur, cells such as neutrophils (white blood cells) and macrophages (cells that ingest bacteria) move to the wound site to kill the microorganisms that cause infection, and fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) move there to remodel damaged structures.
This book presents important research in the field from around the globe.