Changes in the phenotype of keratinocytes is often accompanied by significant changes in the adhesion and migration of these cells.
For example, the most early stage progenitor cells tend to express a range of strong adherence proteins, including the integrins. These proteins provide strong attachment to the underlying surface, resulting in limited migration and dense colonies.
In contrast later stage progenitors demonstrate reduced adhesion, and migrate much more rapidly. This results in more diffuse cell cultures, without tightly packed colonies.
Migration is most commonly evaluated either via a colony forming assay, or alternatively via a scratch assay which evaluates the speed with which cells re-colonize a stripped section of the culture flask.