Screening by changes in stereotypical behavior during cell motility
Stereotyped behaviors are series of postures that show very little variability between repeats. They have been used to classify the dynamics of individuals, groups and species without reference to the lower-level mechanisms that drive them. Stereotypes are easily identified in animals due to strong constraints on the number, shape, and relative positions of anatomical features, such as limbs, that may be used as landmarks for posture identification. In contrast, the identification of stereotypes in single cells poses a significant challenge as the cell lacks these landmark features, and finding constraints on cell shape is a non-trivial task. Here, we use the maximum caliber variational method to build a minimal model of cell behavior during migration. Without reference to biochemical details, we are able to make behavioral predictions over timescales of minutes using only changes in cell shape over timescales of seconds. We use drug treatment and genetics to demonstrate that maximum caliber descriptors can discriminate between healthy and aberrant migration, thereby showing potential applications for maximum caliber methods in automated disease screening, for example in the identification of behaviors associated with cancer metastasis.