We study MCF-7 breast cancer cell movement in a transwell apparatus. Various experimental conditions lead
to a variety of monotone and nonmonotone responses which are difficult to interpret. We anticipate that the
experimental results could be caused by cell-to-cell adhesion or volume exclusion. Without any modeling, it is
impossible to understand the relative roles played by these two mechanisms. A lattice-based exclusion process
random-walk model incorporating agent-to-agent adhesion is applied to the experimental system. Our combined experimental and modeling approach shows that a low value of cell-to-cell adhesion strength provides the best explanation of the experimental data suggesting that volume exclusion plays a more important role than cell-to-cell adhesion. This combined experimental and modeling study gives insight into the cell-level
details and design of transwell assays.
This is combined work with Sean McElwain, Zee Upton and Chris Towne, and is published in Physical Review E, v82 article number 041901 (2010).