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Kumar, Sandeep, et al. "Proteolytic and non-proteolytic regulation of collective cell invasion: tuning by ECM density and organization." Scientific reports 6 (2016). (2016)  View

Cancer cells manoeuvre through extracellular matrices (ECMs) using different invasion modes, including single cell and collective cell invasion. These modes rely on MMP-driven ECM proteolysis to make space for cells to move. How cancer-associated alterations in ECM influence the mode of invasion remains unclear. Further, the sensitivity of the two invasion modes to MMP dynamics remains unexplored. In this paper, we address these open questions using a multiscale hybrid computational model combining ECM density-dependent MMP secretion, MMP diffusion, ECM degradation by MMP and active cell motility. Our results demonstrate that in randomly aligned matrices, collective cell invasion is more efficient than single cell invasion. Although increase in MMP secretion rate enhances invasiveness independent of cell–cell adhesion, sustenance of collective invasion in dense matrices requires high MMP secretion rates. However, matrix alignment can sustain both single cell and collective cell invasion even without ECM proteolysis. Similar to our in-silico observations, increase in ECM density and MMP inhibition reduced migration of MCF-7 cells embedded in sandwich gels. Together, our results indicate that apart from cell intrinsic factors (i.e., high cell–cell adhesion and MMP secretion rates), ECM density and organization represent two important extrinsic parameters that govern collective cell invasion and invasion plasticity.