Flow-Driven Cell Migration under External Electric Fields

Yizeng Li, Yoichiro Mori, Sean X. Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Electric fields influence many aspects of cell physiology, including various forms of cell migration. Many cells are sensitive to electric fields, and they can migrate toward a cathode or an anode, depending on the cell type. In this Letter, we examine an actomyosin-independent mode of cell migration under electrical fields. Our theory considers a one-dimensional cell with water and ionic fluxes at the cell boundary. Water fluxes through the membrane are governed by the osmotic pressure difference across the cell membrane. Fluxes of cations and anions across the cell membrane are determined by the properties of the ion channels as well as the external electric field. Results show that without actin polymerization and myosin contraction, electric fields can also drive cell migration, even when the cell is not polarized. The direction of migration with respect to the electric field direction is influenced by the properties of ion channels, and are cell-type dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number268101
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 23 2015

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Physical Society.


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