Mapping forces and kinematics during collective cell migration

Xavier Serra-Picamal, Vito Conte, Raimon Sunyer, José J. Muñoz, Xavier Trepat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Fundamental biological processes including morphogenesis and tissue repair require cells to migrate collectively. In these processes, epithelial or endothelial cells move in a cooperative manner coupled by intercellular junctions. Ultimately, the movement of these multicellular systems occurs through the generation of cellular forces, exerted either on the substrate via focal adhesions (cell-substrate forces) or on neighboring cells through cell-cell junctions (cell-cell forces). Quantitative measurements of multicellular forces and kinematics with cellular or subcellular resolution have become possible only in recent years. In this chapter, we describe some of these techniques, which include particle image velocimetry to map cell velocities, traction force microscopy to map forces exerted by cells on the substrate, and monolayer stress microscopy to map forces within and between cells. We also describe experimental protocols to perform these measurements. The combination of these techniques with high-resolution imaging tools and molecular perturbations will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying collective cell migration in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-330
Number of pages22
JournalMethods in Cell Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective cell migration
  • Monolayer stress microscopy
  • Traction force microscopy


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