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Life Sciences Seminar: Control of directionally persistent cell migration by micrtubules

At a Glance
Date: 2 March 2012
Time: 12.45pm-1.45pm
Location: GLT 2, Gibbet Hill Campus
Open To: Staff, students, alumni and the general public
Cost: Free

A Life Sciences Seminar presented by Dr Anne Straube from the Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology, Warwick Medical School.

Seminar by Dr Anne Straube from the Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology, Warwick Medical School.


Directional cell migration requires the establishment and maintenance of long-term differences in structure and function between the front and back of a cell. Many cell types require the microtubule cytoskeleton to support cell polarity and guide directional migration. To do this, microtubules themselves are arranged asymmetrically in migrating cells with the majority pointing towards the front of the cell, thereby supporting front-biased transport.

I will focus in my talk, however, on the role of the cell rear in directional migration, which depends on microtubule-based transport into the cell tail. We find that the microtubule motor Kif1C contributes to persistent cell migration primarily through stabilization of an extended cell rear. Kif1C accumulates at the tip of cell tails shortly after tail formation and dispersal of Kif1C correlates to tail retraction. Tail retraction in turn correlates with changes in migration direction, indicating that the maintenance of an extended, tense cell tail facilitates directional migration. We find that Kif1C-mediated transport of 51-integrins into the cell tail is required for the proper maturation of trailing focal adhesions and the treadmilling of adhesions during rear retraction. These processes are in turn required for directionally-persistent migration. We propose a rear-steering mechanism whereby the counterforce originating from a well-anchored tail serves to maintain directionality of the force-generating leading edge of the cell.

Further information

For further information visit the School of Life Sciences website.