Molecular insights into eukaryotic chemotaxis

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84 Scopus citations


Many cells display directed migration toward specific compounds. The best-studied eukaryotic models of chemotaxis are polymorphonuclear leukocytes, which respond to formylated peptides and Dictyostelium amoebas, which respond to extracellular cAMP. In both cell types, chemoattractants bind to surface receptors that contain seven transmembrane domains and interact with G proteins. Some cells, such as fibroblasts, undergo chemotaxis toward compounds whose receptors lack this motif and transmit their signals by other mechanisms. The cytosolic changes elicited by chemoattractants include increased levels of cAMP, cGMP, inositol phosphates, and calcium. These changes are correlated with actin polymerization and other cytoskeletal events that result in preferential extention of pseudopods toward the chemoattractant. Dictyostelium cell lines in which specific genes have been disrupted have demonstrated the necessity of a cAMP receptor (cAR1) and a G protein α-subunit (Gα2) for responsiveness to cAMP. Other proteins, such as myosin heavy chain and several actin binding proteins, are dispensible although their absence does affect the details of chemotaxis. The disruption of other relevant genes and the genetic reconstitution of chemotaxis in cells lacking crucial proteins should reveal many clues about this complicated and fascinating process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3078-3085
Number of pages8
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1991


  • Camp
  • G proteins
  • Leukocytes
  • Motility
  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


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