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Chemotaxis

Chemotaxis (from chemo- + taxis) is the movement of an organism in response to a chemical stimulus. Somatic cells, bacteria, and other single-cell or multicellular organisms direct their movements according to certain chemicals in their environment. This is important for bacteria to find food (e.g., glucose) by swimming toward the highest concentration of food molecules, or to flee from poisons (e.g., phenol). In multicellular organisms, chemotaxis is critical to early development (e.g., movement of sperm towards the egg during fertilization) and subsequent phases of development (e.g., migration of neurons or lymphocytes) as well as in normal function and health (e.g., migration of leukocytes during injury or infection). In addition, it has been recognized that mechanisms that allow chemotaxis in animals can be subverted during cancer metastasis. The aberrant chemotaxis of leukocytes and lymphocytes also contribute to inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, asthma, and arthritis.

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