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Difference between cell invasion and cell migration - (Apr/02/2007 )

Dear friends,

Could you please tell me the difference between "cell invasion" and" cell migration"? For a cancer cell line, if it doesnot show cell migration, then will it also could not show cell invasion? Thanks a lot! rolleyes.gif rolleyes.gif



Sure, if you can tell us how does snow turn blue first. :-). Migration is just cell movement; invasion implies that cancer cells actively get into a tissue, in some cases by secreting protease to digest away the matrix that otherwise blocks the entry of cancer cells, and actively recruit new blood vessels grew into the new colonies, etc.

Any cancer biologist here who wants to add on? I know only the tip of the "bluesnowberg".:-)


Hello Blue -snow!

Genehunter answer explain the basic difference between cell migration and invasion! But in this terms I think that we should clarify about invasion and angiogenesis.
The ability of cancer cell to invade is an unique property of tumor cell which stand up on the road of malignancy. The formation of invasive phenotype of tumor cell appears on the determinated stage of tumor progression and characterized expression of proteolitic ferments ( to digest ECM) and dynamic focused on different sites of the cell adhesion proteins(like integrins, cadherins and others) ( to attached\dettached event). If we speak about angiogenesis so this process is concerned with not property of tumor cell alone but interplaying between tumor cells and cells of tumor stromal cells. Of cause angiogenesis is the process very tightly conjugated with tumor cell invasion. If the tumor stroma highly vascularizied so ability of tumor cell to successfully reach blood stream and down to circulation is increased. But we should’nt mix this phenomena.

Concerning your direct question - what assay do you use to determine cell migration? Did you check conditions to improve cell migration ( for ex time of exp or chemoattractant). I also recommend you ( if you did’nt do this) to make positive control for cell migration to optimize your experiment conditions. Try to use cells with high migration rate ( 3T3 fibroblast, HT1080, rat C6 glioma) May be your cell migration rate is slow ( nature of your cells). But this fact tell nothing about absolute ability of your cells to invade.
What kind of exp do you do? Comparison of different tumor cell lines or tranfected\or not ? Or you investigate single cell line under diff conditions? Here may be different directions to think about!



Hi Genehunter-1, I live in a city where is far away from ocean, but there have a lot of snow in winter. If all the snow turn blue then we could have another kind beatiful ocean. That is how the snow turn blue. Thanks for your reply

Hi Circlepoint, you must be an expert in cancer cell. You are so smart because you extend my question which I didnot speak out. I did invasive assay experiments with two hepatic cancer cell lines and one normal hepatic cell line. I used the BD matrigel invasion chamber. I plated ~50000 cells in each well of 12-well plate. My results seemed a little weird as the normal cell line showed a lot migration(60-70%)and 20-30% invasion. But the two cancer cell lines only show 10-12 cells migration and 6-8 cells invasion. It seems both cancer cell lines showed no migration and no invasion but the normal cell can migraiton and invasion. I also added TNF-a to the bottom chamber and the results still keep no change. Do you think my results is acceptable? Thanks!


Hello Blue-Snow!

First thanks for your “expert” but you overestimate me smile.gif. I am not an expert but I am interesting in this area and have a practice.

Concerning you questions

First of all I would like to know are your native cell have some отношение to used cancer cell lines. May be these cell lines were transformed from native hepatic. Another words are any link between them except hep origin?
Of course from the first point of view it is strange because we accustom that cancer cells should posess higher invasive potential than non-cancerous. Sometimes it is not a case.

Cancer cells in culture can differentiate in wide range metastatic and invasive potential . It depends on many factors. For example source material used to obtain cell line or conditions of cultivation of cells ( depend on % serum, additives in media , number of passage and other). This factors govern selection of subpopulations of cancer cells in particular invasion potential.

Here is a case from my exp. I did invasion assay with cancer cell line and as a negative control I use non-invasive 3T3 cells . After three days of exp I observed that non-invasive line start to invade but cancer cells not. I decide to continue exp for the next three days and saw bursting invasion on 6 day. My colleges also observed this fact:

From discussion with colleges we summary the following and this confirmed by other scientist worked in this area.
If cancer cell is “young” ( the cell which keep differentiation pattern of the tissue origin ) is invade more faster that the “old” tumor cells which really more dangerous for organism ( which fully dedifferentiated ( another words “anaplasia” state ). These “old” cells really invade slowly but than characherized “burned invasion”. It is a topic to you to think and keep in mind .

What I would like to advice you!

To successfull invasion through ECM barrier cells must produce proteases which proteolise ECM proteins . So the question is in rate and level of MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression ( the main proteases involved in this process). So try to estimate level of expression of these key proteases facilitating invasion process in your native and cancer cell lines. You can do it in zymography assay.

Here is a scheme of exp.

Cultivate youe cells in 96 WP till they reach near tight monolayer. Than change fresh complete media without FBS ( 80-100ul per well) ( add 0.1% BSA to help your cells) ( before wash two times monolayer with serum free media) and allow to grow 24 -48 hour ( depend on your cells) . Then collect media and check enzymatic acrtivity in zymography assay. ( PAGE with incorporated gelatin as substrate for MMP) . I will send you a protocol If you decide to do.
As positive control take the same serum free media from HT1080 cells or buy MMP control from Sigma). Note: all you cells should be in the same conditions ( mainly time of incubation in serum free media). So you can estimate proteolitic activity of your cells and this may be clarify something!

Good luck!