Guidance signalling regulates leading edge behaviour during collective cell migration of cardiac cells in Drosophila
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Collective cell migration is the coordinated movement of cells, which organize tissues during morphogenesis, repair and some cancers. The motile cell membrane of the advancing front in collective cell migration is termed the Leading Edge. The embryonic development of the vertebrate and Drosophila hearts are both characterized by the coordinated medial migration of a bilateral cluster of mesodermal cells. In Drosophila, the cardioblasts form cohesive bilateral rows that migrate collectively as a unit towards the dorsal midline to form the dorsal vessel. We have characterized the collective cell migration of cardioblasts as an in vivo quantitative model to study the behaviour of the Leading Edge. We investigated whether guidance signalling through Slit and Netrin pathways plays a role in cell migration during heart development. Through time-lapse imaging and quantitative assessment of migratory behaviour of the cardioblasts in loss-of-function mutants, we demonstrate that both Slit and Netrin mediated signals are autonomously and concomitantly required to maximize migration velocity, filopodial and lamellipodial activities. Additionally, we show that another Slit and Netrin receptor, Dscam1, the role of which during heart development was previously unknown, is required for both normal migration of cardioblasts and luminal expansion. Leading edge behaviour analysis revealed a dosage dependent genetic interaction between Slit and Netrin receptors suggesting that downstream signalling through these receptors converge on a common output that increases leading edge activity of the cardioblasts. Finally, we found that guidance signalling maintains the balance between epithelial and mesenchymal characteristics of the migrating cardioblasts.
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