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Signaling between protein, growth factor is critical for coordinated cell migration
Date:11/10/2008

SALT LAKE CITYThe mysterious process that orchestrates cells to move in unison to form human and animal embryos, heal wounds, and even spread cancer depends on interaction between two well-known genetic signaling pathways, two University of Utah medical school researchers have discovered.

The study by Tatjana Piotrowski, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy, and doctoral student Andy Aman sheds new light on how the migration of groups of cells is coordinated and is the first to show a functional link between the Wnt and Fgf growth factor signaling pathways in a live animal model (zebrafish). The findings may give clues to how cancer metastasizes or spreads when cancerous cells move to different areas of the body.

Cell migration, though central to the development and maintenance of multicellular organisms, is not well understood, particularly in vivo or in live models. Researchers already knew the Wnt pathway has a role in embryogenesis and cancer by regulating cell-to-cell communication and that the Fgf pathway influences embryogenesis, wound healing, and cell proliferation. But Piotrowski's and Aman's study, published in the Nov. 11 issue of Developmental Cell, is the first to demonstrate that interaction between the two pathways is critical for proper collective cell migration.

"We looked at the question of how cells in the tip and the tail of a group of migrating cells communicate so that they move in a coordinated fashion," said Piotrowski, the paper's senior author.

To identify which genes are involved in collective cell migration, Piotrowski and Aman studied a group of migrating cells, called the lateral line primordium. During development the lateral line primordium migrates from the zebrafish head to the tail tip, periodically depositing sensory organs. The lateral line sensory system helps zebrafish and other aquatic vertebrates sense water movement.

Aman and Piotrowski discovered
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Contact: Phil Sahm
phil.sahm@hsc.utah.edu
801-581-2517
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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