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The Croonian Lecture, 1978 - The Crawling Movement Of Metazoan Cells


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A great variety of metazoan cells have the ability to crawl across a surface. Students of inflammation, of wound healing, of developing embryos or of cell cultures have for many years investigated accessible aspects of the phenomenon, but largely in isolation. A general physiology of the movement hardly seemed possible. But the scene is beginning to change, and this lecture is an attempt to see what sort of a general picture may now be drawn. Present knowledge of the machinery of movement, which is undergoing a revolution as the muscle-like proteins of the cytoplasm emerge more clearly, is considered. The lecture then outlines the circumstances in which cell movement occurs in vivo , and suggests the functions that it performs. Finally, attention is turned to what may be called the behavioural aspects, to how the movement is guided in particular directions and started or stopped by the conditions around the cell.