Complement Fragment C3a Controls Mutual Cell Attraction during Collective Cell Migration

Carlos Carmona-Fontaine, Eric Theveneau, Apostolia Tzekou, Masazumi Tada, Mae Woods, Karen M. Page, Maddy Parsons, John D. Lambris, Roberto Mayor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Collective cell migration is a mode of movement crucial for morphogenesis and cancer metastasis. However, little is known about how migratory cells coordinate collectively. Here we show that mutual cell-cell attraction (named here coattraction) is required to maintain cohesive clusters of migrating mesenchymal cells. Coattraction can counterbalance the natural tendency of cells to disperse via mechanisms such as contact inhibition and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Neural crest cells are coattracted via the complement fragment C3a and its receptor C3aR, revealing an unexpected role of complement proteins in early vertebrate development. Loss of coattraction disrupts collective and coordinated movements of these cells. We propose that coattraction and contact inhibition act in concert to allow cell collectives to self-organize and respond efficiently to external signals, such as chemoattractants and repellents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1037
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 13 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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