Navigating Biochemical Pathways for Cell Polarization and Motility (A Personal Journey)
Many cell types, including cells of the immune system, are able to polarize and crawl in response to chemical or mechanical stimuli. In this way, they can perform vital functions such as immune surveillance, wound healing, and tissue development. I will describe our efforts to understand the underlying biochemistry governing the initial direction sensing, polarization, cell shape change, and motility. While much of the biology is undergoing rapid discovery, we have found that mathematical ideas supply additional tools. Such tools help to decipher underlying mechanism, to weed between competing hypotheses, and to suggest new experimental tests. On the same journey, we also encountered some new and interesting mathematics.