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1.  Paxillin controls directional cell motility in response to physical cues 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2012;6(6):502-508.
Physical cues from the extracellular environment that influence cell shape and directional migration are transduced into changes in cytoskeletal organization and biochemistry through integrin-based cell adhesions to extracellular matrix (ECM). Paxillin is a focal adhesion (FA) scaffold protein that mediates integrin anchorage to the cytoskeleton, and has been implicated in regulation of FA assembly and cell migration. To determine whether paxillin is involved in coupling mechanical distortion with directional movement, cell shape was physically constrained by culturing cells on square-shaped fibronectin-coated adhesive islands surrounded by non-adhesive barrier regions that were created with a microcontact printing technique. Square-shaped cells preferentially formed FAs and extended lamellipodia from their corner regions when stimulated with PDGF, and loss of paxillin resulted in loss of this polarized response. Selective expression of the N- and C-terminal domains of paxillin produced opposite, but complementary, effects on suppressing or promoting lamellipodia formation in different regions of square cells, which corresponded to directional motility defects in vitro. Paxillin loss or mutation was also shown to affect the formation of circular dorsal ruffles, and this corresponded to changes in cell invasive behavior in 3D. This commentary addresses the implications of these findings in terms of how a multifunctional FA scaffold protein can link physical cues to cell adhesion, protrusion and membrane trafficking so as to control directional migration in 2D and 3D. We also discuss how microengineered ECM islands and in vivo model systems can be used to further elucidate the functions of paxillin in directional migration.
doi:10.4161/cam.21672
PMCID: PMC3547894  PMID: 23076140
paxillin; focal adhesion; lamellipodia; dorsal ruffles; migration; motility; microcontact printing; membrane trafficking; mechanotransduction
2.  Paxillin Mediates Sensing of Physical Cues and Regulates Directional Cell Motility by Controlling Lamellipodia Positioning 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28303.
Physical interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) guide directional migration by spatially controlling where cells form focal adhesions (FAs), which in turn regulate the extension of motile processes. Here we show that physical control of directional migration requires the FA scaffold protein paxillin. Using single-cell sized ECM islands to constrain cell shape, we found that fibroblasts cultured on square islands preferentially activated Rac and extended lamellipodia from corner, rather than side regions after 30 min stimulation with PDGF, but that cells lacking paxillin failed to restrict Rac activity to corners and formed small lamellipodia along their entire peripheries. This spatial preference was preceded by non-spatially constrained formation of both dorsal and lateral membrane ruffles from 5–10 min. Expression of paxillin N-terminal (paxN) or C-terminal (paxC) truncation mutants produced opposite, but complementary, effects on lamellipodia formation. Surprisingly, pax−/− and paxN cells also formed more circular dorsal ruffles (CDRs) than pax+ cells, while paxC cells formed fewer CDRs and extended larger lamellipodia even in the absence of PDGF. In a two-dimensional (2D) wound assay, pax−/− cells migrated at similar speeds to controls but lost directional persistence. Directional motility was rescued by expressing full-length paxillin or the N-terminus alone, but paxN cells migrated more slowly. In contrast, pax−/− and paxN cells exhibited increased migration in a three-dimensional (3D) invasion assay, with paxN cells invading Matrigel even in the absence of PDGF. These studies indicate that paxillin integrates physical and chemical motility signals by spatially constraining where cells will form motile processes, and thereby regulates directional migration both in 2D and 3D. These findings also suggest that CDRs may correspond to invasive protrusions that drive cell migration through 3D extracellular matrices.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028303
PMCID: PMC3237434  PMID: 22194823
3.  A role for Lin28 in primordial germ cell development and germ cell malignancy 
Nature  2009;460(7257):909-913.
The rarity and inaccessibility of the earliest primordial germ cells (PGCs) in the mouse embryo thwarts efforts to investigate molecular mechanisms of germ cell specification. Stella marks the minute founder population of the germ lineage1,2. Here we differentiate mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) carrying a Stella transgenic reporter into putative PGCs in vitro. The Stella+ cells possess a transcriptional profile similar to embryo-derived PGCs, and like their counterparts in vivo, lose imprints in a time-dependent manner. Using inhibitory RNAs to screen candidate genes for effects on the development of Stella+ cells in vitro, we discovered that Lin28, a negative regulator of let-7 microRNA processing3-6, is essential for proper PGC development. We further show that Blimp1, a let-7 target and a master regulator of PGC specification7-9, can rescue the effect of Lin28-deficiency during PGC development, thereby establishing a mechanism of action for Lin28 during PGC specification. Over-expression of Lin28 promotes formation of Stella+ cells in vitro and PGCs in chimeric embryos, and is associated with human germ cell tumours. The differentiation of putative PGCs from ESCs in vitro recapitulates the early stages of gamete development in vivo, and provides an accessible system for discovering novel genes involved in germ cell development and malignancy.
doi:10.1038/nature08210
PMCID: PMC2729657  PMID: 19578360

Results 1-3 (3)