Kai, M., Heisenberg, C.P., and Tada, M. (2008) Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptors regulate individual cell behaviours underlying the directed migration of prechordal plate progenitor cells during zebrafish gastrulation. Development (Cambridge, England). 135(18):3043-3051.
During vertebrate gastrulation, cells forming the prechordal plate undergo directed migration as a cohesive cluster. Recent studies revealed that E-cadherin-mediated coherence between these cells plays an important role in effective anterior migration, and that platelet-derived growth factor (Pdgf) appears to act as a guidance cue in this process. However, the mechanisms underlying this process at the individual cell level remain poorly understood. We have identified miles apart (mil) as a suppressor of defective anterior migration of the prospective prechordal plate in silberblick (slb)/wnt11 mutant embryos, in which E-cadherin-mediated coherence of cell movement is reduced. mil encodes Edg5, a sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptor belonging to a family of five G-protein-coupled receptors (S1PRs). S1P is a lipid signalling molecule that has been implicated in regulating cytoskeletal rearrangements, cell motility and cell adhesion in a variety of cell types. We examined the roles of Mil in anterior migration of prechordal plate progenitor cells and found that, in slb embryos injected with mil-MO, cells migrate with increased motility but decreased directionality, without restoring the coherence of cell migration. This indicates that prechordal plate progenitor cells can migrate effectively as individuals, as well as in a coherent cluster of cells. Moreover, we demonstrate that Mil regulates cell motility and polarisation through Pdgf and its intracellular effecter PI3K, but modulates cell coherence independently of the Pdgf/PI3K pathway, thus co-ordinating cell motility and coherence. These results suggest that the net migration of prechordal plate progenitors is determined by different parameters, including motility, persistence and coherence.