When blood vessels are injured, leader cells emerge in the endothelium to heal the wound and restore the vasculature integrity. The characteristics of leader cells during endothelial collective migration under diverse physiological conditions, however, are poorly understood. Here we investigate the regulation and function of endothelial leader cells by plasma lithography geometric confinement generated. Endothelial leader cells display an aggressive phenotype, connect to follower cells via peripheral actin cables and discontinuous adherens junctions, and lead migrating clusters near the leading edge. Time-lapse microscopy, immunostaining, and particle image velocimetry reveal that the density of leader cells and the speed of migrating clusters are tightly regulated in a wide range of geometric patterns. By challenging the cells with converging, diverging and competing patterns, we show that the density of leader cells correlates with the size and coherence of the migrating clusters. Collectively, our data provide evidence that leader cells control endothelial collective migration by regualting the migrating clusters.
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