Cell Biology

A Collective Movement

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Science  17 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6070, pp. 776
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6070.776-b

Migratory cells are exquisitely sensitive to gradients in concentrations of molecules that provide guidance cues, and in individual cells, localized signals produce directed migration. Cells sometimes migrate as a group, however, and in this case the signaling mechanisms by which cellular movements are controlled are less clear. Inaki et al. tested whether one member of a group of cells could coordinate migration of the group. The authors modified border cells of the Drosophila ovary so that they would be unresponsive to the endogenous ligands that guide them through the activation of receptor tyrosine kinases. They then overexpressed a receptor in only one of the cells, which resulted in its being active in the absence of ligand. In an alternative approach, the authors activated the small guanosine triphosphatase Rac, which is required for migration, in only one cell. In both cases, signaling in a single cell could direct migration. These results suggest that information directing the group of cells is encoded in the difference between signals occurring in individual cells within the group; these signals appear to be different than the signals used by cells migrating on their own.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109, 2027 (2012).

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