Direct detection of guidance receptor activity during border cell migration
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. - Washington, D.C.
, p. 7323-7328
University of Antwerp
Guidance receptor signaling is crucial for steering migrating cells. Despite this, we generally lack direct measurements of such signaling. Border cells in Drosophila migrate as a tightly associated group, but dynamically, with front and rear cells exchanging places. They use the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) PDGF/VEGF receptor (PVR) as a guidance receptor, perceiving the attractant Pvf1. Here we determine the spatial distribution of PVR signaling by generating an antibody that specifically detects activated PVR in situ. PVR activity is very low in migrating border cells, due to strong activity of cellular phosphatases. Measurements of signal at the cell cortex show variability but a strong bias for both total active PVR and specific activity of PVR to be elevated at the front versus side of the leading cell, often with several fold difference in signal levels. This polarized active PVR signal requires the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cbl and the recycling regulator Rab11, indicating a dependency on receptor trafficking. The endogenous ligand gradient contributes to shaping of signaling by increasing the specific activity of PVR toward the source in front cells. Surprisingly, signaling is also elevated at the back versus the side of rear cells. This distally polarized distribution of active PVR is ligand independent. Thus the actual guidance signal transmitted in border cells appears to integrate perceived ligand distribution with cell polarity or cell orientation with respect to the cluster. A general implication is that both group configuration and extrinsic cues can directly modulate guidance receptor signaling during collective cell migration.