Navigation of chemotactic cells by parallel signaling to pseudopod persistence and orientation.
ABSTRACT: The mechanism of chemotaxis is one of the most interesting issues in modern cell biology. Recent work shows that shallow chemoattractant gradients do not induce the generation of pseudopods, as has been predicted in many models. This poses the question of how else cells can steer towards chemoattractants. Here we use a new computational algorithm to analyze the extension of pseudopods by Dictyostelium cells. We show that a shallow gradient of cAMP induces a small bias in the direction of pseudopod extension, without significantly affecting parameters such as pseudopod frequency or size. Persistent movement, caused by alternating left/right splitting of existing pseudopodia, amplifies the effects of this bias by up to 5-fold. Known players in chemotactic pathways play contrasting parts in this mechanism; PLA2 and cGMP signal to the cytoskeleton to regulate the splitting process, while PI 3-kinase and soluble guanylyl cyclase mediate the directional bias. The coordinated regulation of pseudopod generation, orientation and persistence by multiple signaling pathways allows eukaryotic cells to detect extremely shallow gradients.
Project description:Many amoeboid cells move by extending pseudopods. Here I present a new stochastic model for chemotaxis that is based on pseudopod extensions by Dictyostelium cells. In the absence of external cues, pseudopod extension is highly ordered with two types of pseudopods: de novo formation of a pseudopod at the cell body in random directions, and alternating right/left splitting of an existing pseudopod that leads to a persistent zig-zag trajectory. We measured the directional probabilities of the extension of splitting and de novo pseudopods in chemoattractant gradients with different steepness. Very shallow cAMP gradients can bias the direction of splitting pseudopods, but the bias is not perfect. Orientation of de novo pseudopods require much steeper cAMP gradients and can be more precise. These measured probabilities of pseudopod directions were used to obtain an analytical model for chemotaxis of cell populations. Measured chemotaxis of wild-type cells and mutants with specific defects in these stochastic pseudopod properties are similar to predictions of the model. These results show that combining splitting and de novo pseudopods is a very effective way for cells to obtain very high sensitivity to stable gradient and still be responsive to changes in the direction of the gradient.
Project description:Many eukaryotic cells regulate their mobility by external cues. Genetic studies have identified >100 components that participate in chemotaxis, which hinders the identification of the conceptual framework of how cells sense and respond to shallow chemical gradients. The activation of Ras occurs during basal locomotion and is an essential connector between receptor and cytoskeleton during chemotaxis. Using a sensitive assay for activated Ras, we show here that activation of Ras and F-actin forms two excitable systems that are coupled through mutual positive feedback and memory. This coupled excitable system leads to short-lived patches of activated Ras and associated F-actin that precede the extension of protrusions. In buffer, excitability starts frequently with Ras activation in the back/side of the cell or with F-actin in the front of the cell. In a shallow gradient of chemoattractant, local Ras activation triggers full excitation of Ras and subsequently F-actin at the side of the cell facing the chemoattractant, leading to directed pseudopod extension and chemotaxis. A computational model shows that the coupled excitable Ras/F-actin system forms the driving heart for the ordered-stochastic extension of pseudopods in buffer and for efficient directional extension of pseudopods in chemotactic gradients.
Project description:Eukaryotic cells extend pseudopodia for movement. In the absence of external cues, cells move in random directions, but with a strong element of persistence that keeps them moving in the same direction Persistence allows cells to disperse over larger areas and is instrumental to enter new environments where spatial cues can lead the cell. Here we explore cell movement by analyzing the direction, size and timing of approximately 2000 pseudopodia that are extended by Dictyostelium cells. The results show that pseudpopod are extended perpendicular to the surface curvature at the place where they emerge. The location of new pseudopods is not random but highly ordered. Two types of pseudopodia may be formed: frequent splitting of an existing pseudopod, or the occasional extension of a de novo pseudopod at regions devoid of recent pseudopod activity. Split-pseudopodia are extended at approximately 60 degrees relative to the previous pseudopod, mostly as alternating Right/Left/Right steps leading to relatively straight zigzag runs. De novo pseudopodia are extended in nearly random directions thereby interrupting the zigzag runs. Persistence of cell movement is based on the ratio of split versus de novo pseudopodia. We identify PLA2 and cGMP signaling pathways that modulate this ratio of splitting and de novo pseudopodia, and thereby regulate the dispersal of cells. The observed ordered extension of pseudopodia in the absence of external cues provides a fundamental insight into the coordinated movement of cells, and might form the basis for movement that is directed by internal or external cues.
Project description:The trajectory of moving eukaryotic cells depends on the kinetics and direction of extending pseudopods. The direction of pseudopods has been well studied to unravel mechanisms for chemotaxis, wound healing and inflammation. However, the kinetics of pseudopod extension-when and why do pseudopods start and stop- is equally important, but is largely unknown. Here the START and STOP of about 4000 pseudopods was determined in four different species, at four conditions and in nine mutants (fast amoeboids Dictyostelium and neutrophils, slow mesenchymal stem cells, and fungus B.d. chytrid with pseudopod and a flagellum). The START of a first pseudopod is a random event with a probability that is species-specific (23%/s for neutrophils). In all species and conditions, the START of a second pseudopod is strongly inhibited by the extending first pseudopod, which depends on parallel filamentous actin/myosin in the cell cortex. Pseudopods extend at a constant rate by polymerization of branched F-actin at the pseudopod tip, which requires the Scar complex. The STOP of pseudopod extension is induced by multiple inhibitory processes that evolve during pseudopod extension and mainly depend on the increasing size of the pseudopod. Surprisingly, no differences in pseudopod kinetics are detectable between polarized, unpolarized or chemotactic cells, and also not between different species except for small differences in numerical values. This suggests that the analysis has uncovered the fundament of cell movement with distinct roles for stimulatory branched F-actin in the protrusion and inhibitory parallel F-actin in the contractile cortex.
Project description:Motile eukaryotic cells migrate with directional persistence by alternating left and right turns, even in the absence of external cues. For example, Dictyostelium discoideum cells crawl by extending distinct pseudopods in an alternating right-left pattern. The mechanisms underlying this zig-zag behavior, however, remain unknown. Here we propose a new Excitable Cortex and Memory (EC&M) model for understanding the alternating, zig-zag extension of pseudopods. Incorporating elements of previous models, we consider the cell cortex as an excitable system and include global inhibition of new pseudopods while a pseudopod is active. With the novel hypothesis that pseudopod activity makes the local cortex temporarily more excitable--thus creating a memory of previous pseudopod locations--the model reproduces experimentally observed zig-zag behavior. Furthermore, the EC&M model makes four new predictions concerning pseudopod dynamics. To test these predictions we develop an algorithm that detects pseudopods via hierarchical clustering of individual membrane extensions. Data from cell-tracking experiments agrees with all four predictions of the model, revealing that pseudopod placement is a non-Markovian process affected by the dynamics of previous pseudopods. The model is also compatible with known limits of chemotactic sensitivity. In addition to providing a predictive approach to studying eukaryotic cell motion, the EC&M model provides a general framework for future models, and suggests directions for new research regarding the molecular mechanisms underlying directional persistence.
Project description:The mechanism of eukaryotic chemotaxis remains unclear despite intensive study. The most frequently described mechanism acts through attractants causing actin polymerization, in turn leading to pseudopod formation and cell movement. We recently proposed an alternative mechanism, supported by several lines of data, in which pseudopods are made by a self-generated cycle. If chemoattractants are present, they modulate the cycle rather than directly causing actin polymerization. The aim of this work is to test the explanatory and predictive powers of such pseudopod-based models to predict the complex behaviour of cells in chemotaxis. We have now tested the effectiveness of this mechanism using a computational model of cell movement and chemotaxis based on pseudopod autocatalysis. The model reproduces a surprisingly wide range of existing data about cell movement and chemotaxis. It simulates cell polarization and persistence without stimuli and selection of accurate pseudopods when chemoattractant gradients are present. It predicts both bias of pseudopod position in low chemoattractant gradients and--unexpectedly--lateral pseudopod initiation in high gradients. To test the predictive ability of the model, we looked for untested and novel predictions. One prediction from the model is that the angle between successive pseudopods at the front of the cell will increase in proportion to the difference between the cell's direction and the direction of the gradient. We measured the angles between pseudopods in chemotaxing Dictyostelium cells under different conditions and found the results agreed with the model extremely well. Our model and data together suggest that in rapidly moving cells like Dictyostelium and neutrophils an intrinsic pseudopod cycle lies at the heart of cell motility. This implies that the mechanism behind chemotaxis relies on modification of intrinsic pseudopod behaviour, more than generation of new pseudopods or actin polymerization by chemoattractants.
Project description:Many eukaryotic cells use pseudopodia for movement towards chemoattractants. We developed a computer algorithm to identify pseudopodia, and analyzed how pseudopodia of Dictyostelium cells are guided toward cAMP. Surprisingly, the direction of a pseudopod is not actively oriented toward the gradient, but is always perpendicular to the local cell curvature. The gradient induces a bias in the position where the pseudopod emerges: pseudopodia more likely emerge at the side of the cell closer to the gradient where perpendicular pseudopodia are pointed automatically toward the chemoattractant. A mutant lacking the formin dDia2 is not spherical but has many invaginations. Although pseudopodia still emerge at the side closer to the gradient, the surface curvature is so irregular that many pseudopodia are not extended toward cAMP. The results imply that the direction of the pseudopod extension, and therefore also the direction of cell movement, is dominated by two aspects: the position at the cell surface where a pseudopod emerges, and the local curvature of the membrane at that position.
Project description:During embryogenesis, melanoblasts proliferate and migrate ventrally through the developing dermis and epidermis as single cells. Targeted deletion of Rac1 in melanoblasts during embryogenesis causes defects in migration, cell-cycle progression, and cytokinesis. Rac1 null cells migrate markedly less efficiently, but surprisingly, global steering, crossing the dermal/epidermal junction, and homing to hair follicles occur normally. Melanoblasts navigate in the epidermis using two classes of protrusion: short stubs and long pseudopods. Short stubs are distinct from blebs and are driven by actin assembly but are independent of Rac1, Arp2/3 complex, myosin, or microtubules. Rac1 positively regulates the frequency of initiation of long pseudopods, which promote migration speed and directional plasticity. Scar/WAVE and Arp2/3 complex drive actin assembly for long pseudopod extension, which also depends on microtubule dynamics. Myosin contractility balances the extension of long pseudopods by effecting retraction and allowing force generation for movement through the complex 3D epidermal environment.
Project description:Cell migration in the absence of external cues is well described by a correlated random walk. Most single cells move by extending protrusions called pseudopodia. To deduce how cells walk, we have analyzed the formation of pseudopodia by Dictyostelium cells. We have observed that the formation of pseudopodia is highly ordered with two types of pseudopodia: First, de novo formation of pseudopodia at random positions on the cell body, and therefore in random directions. Second, pseudopod splitting near the tip of the current pseudopod in alternating right/left directions, leading to a persistent zig-zag trajectory. Here we analyzed the probability frequency distributions of the angles between pseudopodia and used this information to design a stochastic model for cell movement. Monte Carlo simulations show that the critical elements are the ratio of persistent splitting pseudopodia relative to random de novo pseudopodia, the Left/Right alternation, the angle between pseudopodia and the variance of this angle. Experiments confirm predictions of the model, showing reduced persistence in mutants that are defective in pseudopod splitting and in mutants with an irregular cell surface.
Project description:Diverse eukaryotic cells crawl through complex environments using distinct modes of migration. To understand the underlying mechanisms and their evolutionary relationships, we must define each mode and identify its phenotypic and molecular markers. In this study, we focus on a widely dispersed migration mode characterized by dynamic actin-filled pseudopods that we call "?-motility." Mining genomic data reveals a clear trend: only organisms with both WASP and SCAR/WAVE-activators of branched actin assembly-make actin-filled pseudopods. Although SCAR has been shown to drive pseudopod formation, WASP's role in this process is controversial. We hypothesize that these genes collectively represent a genetic signature of ?-motility because both are used for pseudopod formation. WASP depletion from human neutrophils confirms that both proteins are involved in explosive actin polymerization, pseudopod formation, and cell migration. WASP and WAVE also colocalize to dynamic signaling structures. Moreover, retention of WASP together with SCAR correctly predicts ?-motility in disease-causing chytrid fungi, which we show crawl at >30 µm/min with actin-filled pseudopods. By focusing on one migration mode in many eukaryotes, we identify a genetic marker of pseudopod formation, the morphological feature of ?-motility, providing evidence for a widely distributed mode of cell crawling with a single evolutionary origin.