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Spatial control of actin polymerization during neutrophil chemotaxis


Neutrophils respond to chemotactic stimuli by increasing the nucleation and polymerization of actin filaments, but the location and regulation of these processes are not well understood. Here, using a permeabilized-cell assay, we show that chemotactic stimuli cause neutrophils to organize many discrete sites of actin polymerization, the distribution of which is biased by external chemotactic gradients. Furthermore, the Arp2/3 complex, which can nucleate actin polymerization, dynamically redistributes to the region of living neutrophils that receives maximal chemotactic stimulation, and the least-extractable pool of the Arp2/3 complex co-localizes with sites of actin polymerization. Our observations indicate that chemoattractant-stimulated neutrophils may establish discrete foci of actin polymerization that are similar to those generated at the posterior surface of the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. We propose that asymmetrical establishment and/or maintenance of sites of actin polymerization produces directional migration of neutrophils in response to chemotactic gradients.

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Figure 1: Polarization of a neutrophil in response to a gradient of chemoattractant.
Figure 2: Spatial distribution of incorporation of TMR–actin in a chemoattractant-stimulated permeabilized neutrophil.
Figure 3: Spatial distribution of TMR–actin incorporation in a neutrophil with two pseudopodia.
Figure 4: Response of neutrophils expressing Arp3–GFP to a stationary or moving chemotactic micropipette.
Figure 5: Immunofluorescence localization of endogenous Arp2/3 complex and actin in human neutrophils and the relationship of Arp2/3 localization to sites of actin polymerization.
Figure 6: Model of actin polymerization in response to a chemotactic signal.


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We thank A. Abo, D. Agard, C. Bargmann, D. Drubin, Z. Kam, C. Kenyon, R. Mullins, J. Taunton, J. Weissman, S. Zigmond and members of the Bourne and Sedat laboratories for discussions; A. Abo for the PLB-985 promyelocytic cell line; and C. Bargmann, C. Kenyon, J.V. Small, and S. Zigmond for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported in part by grants from the NIH (to H.R.B., J.W.S. and T.J.M.). M.D.W. is a Leukemia Society of America Special Fellow; G.S. is a Medical Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow; and O.D.W. is an HHMI Predoctoral Fellow.

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to H.R.B.

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Weiner, O., Servant, G., Welch, M. et al. Spatial control of actin polymerization during neutrophil chemotaxis . Nat Cell Biol 1, 75–81 (1999).

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