Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 70, Issue 19, pp 3481–3492

Collective cell migration of epithelial and mesenchymal cells


DOI: 10.1007/s00018-012-1251-7

Cite this article as:
Theveneau, E. & Mayor, R. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2013) 70: 3481. doi:10.1007/s00018-012-1251-7


Directional cell migration is required for proper embryogenesis, immunity, and healing, and its underpinning regulatory mechanisms are often hijacked during diseases such as chronic inflammations and cancer metastasis. Studies on migratory epithelial tissues have revealed that cells can move as a collective group with shared responsibilities. First thought to be restricted to proper epithelial cell types able to maintain stable cell–cell junctions, the field of collective cell migration is now widening to include cooperative behavior of mesenchymal cells. In this review, we give an overview of the mechanisms driving collective cell migration in epithelial tissues and discuss how mesenchymal cells can cooperate to behave as a collective in the absence of bona fide cell–cell adhesions.


Collective cell migrationEpithelium-to-mesenchyme transitionContact-inhibition of locomotionChemotaxisMechanosensingMesodermNeural crest cellsCancer

Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cell and Developmental BiologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK