Migration & Wound Healing

Cell motility is fundamental to a variety of biological processes, ranging from development of neural-crest-derived structures in embryology, wound healing, angiogenesis, and cell migration in the development, growth, and metastasis of tumors. 

To test the impact of various compounds on cell migration, we developed a protocol for high throughput “scratch assays” compatible with cells plated in 384 well dishes.   The assay can be done on a variety of cell types, and biological phenomena, including neural crest precursor migration, wound healing (fibroblasts), angiogenesis (human microvascular endothelial cells), and tumor biology (breast and ovarian tumor cells).

Note that each assay below is offered in three versions, and custom biomarkers can be added to each version. Information from biomarker staining will include outputs such as mean intensity, subcellular localization and percentage of cells showing expression. Where appropriate, it may be possible to report expression phenotypes in context of proximity to the wound edge.

Neural crest migration assays (NC precursor cells):

  • Assay version 1 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining only.
  • Assay version 2 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining and provides Sox10 staining to quantify potential changes to the pluripotent state of the NC induced by test compounds.
  • Assay version 3 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining, provides Sox10 staining to quantify potential changes to the pluripotent state of the NC induced by test compounds (optional) and allows integration of a custom biomarker using any commercially-available antibody.

Endothelial migration assays (Immortalized HMEC-1, or primary human HUVECs or HMVECs):

  • Assay version 1 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining only.
  • Assay version 2 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining and provides beta-catenin staining to measure activation of the Wnt pathway by test compounds.
  • Assay version 3 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining, provides and provides beta-catenin staining to measure activation of the Wnt pathway (optional) and allows integration of a custom biomarker using any commercially-available antibody.


Wound healing migration assays (3T3, A431, MDCK, MCF7 or human primary fibroblasts):

  • Assay version 1 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining only.
  • Assay version 2 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining and provides beta-catenin staining to measure activation of the Wnt pathway by test compounds.
  • Assay version 3 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining, provides and provides beta-catenin staining to measure activation of the Wnt pathway (optional) and allows integration of a custom biomarker using any commercially-available antibody.


Cancer migration assays (MDA-MB-231, SKOV-3 or HeLa cells):

  • Assay version 1 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining only.
  • Assay version 2 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining and provides beta-catenin staining to measure activation of the Wnt pathway by test compounds.
  • Assay version 3 measures cell migration and overall toxicity via Hoechst staining, provides and provides beta-catenin staining to measure activation of the Wnt pathway (optional) and allows integration of a custom biomarker using any commercially-available antibody.