'Dicty dynamics': Dictyostelium motility as persistent random motion

Liang Li, Edward C Cox, Henrik Flyvbjerg

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    We model the motility of Dictyostelium cells in a systematic data-driven manner. We deduce a minimal dynamical model that reproduces the statistical features of experimental trajectories. These are trajectories of the centroid of the cell perimeter, which is more sensitive to pseudopod activity than the usual tracking by centroid or nucleus. Our data account for cell individuality and dictate a model that extends the cell-type specific models recently derived for mammalian cells. Two generalized Langevin equations model stochastic periodic pseudopod motion parallel and orthogonal to the amoeba's direction of motion. This motion propels the amoeba with a random periodic left–right waddle in a direction that has a long persistence time. The model fully accounts for the statistics of the experimental trajectories, including velocity power spectra and auto-correlations, non-Gaussian velocity distributions, and multiplicative noise. Thus, we find neither need nor place in our data for an interpretation in terms of anomalous diffusion. The model faithfully captures cell individuality as different parameter values in the model, and serves as a basis for integrating the local mechanics of cell motion with our observed long-term behavior.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPhysical Biology
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)046006
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Cell aggregation
    • Cell locomotion, chemotaxis
    • Diffusion
    • Markov processes

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