To study, how cells respond to gradients of guidance cues almost exclusively soluble gradients were investigated. However, our lab could recently show that dendritic cells (DCs), antigen presenting cells whose function critically depends on chemotactic guidance, rather migrate along immobilized haptotactic gradients in vivo. Here, the chemokine CC – motif chemokine ligand (CCL) 21 is presented as a steep, immobilized gradient and guides DCs through the interstitium of the skin towards their destination, the lymphatic vessel. The fact that in vivo some chemoattractants are presented in an immobilized fashion has neither been considered in gradient sensing models nor quantitatively explored in vitro and it is important to consider that immobilized gradients can adopt more complex shapes than soluble gradients. Therefore, we devised a reductionist in vitro approach to quantitatively study migratory responses to haptotactic gradients.


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