Integrin acts upstream of netrin signaling to regulate formation of the anchor cell's invasive membrane in C. elegans.

Department of Biology, Duke University, Science Drive, Box 90388, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
Developmental Cell (Impact Factor: 12.86). 09/2009; 17(2):187-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2009.06.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Integrin expression and activity have been strongly correlated with developmental and pathological processes involving cell invasion through basement membranes. The role of integrins in mediating these invasions, however, remains unclear. Utilizing the genetically and visually accessible model of anchor cell (AC) invasion in C. elegans, we have recently shown that netrin signaling orients a specialized invasive cell membrane domain toward the basement membrane. Here, we demonstrate that the integrin heterodimer INA-1/PAT-3 plays a crucial role in AC invasion, in part by targeting the netrin receptor UNC-40 (DCC) to the AC's plasma membrane. Analyses of the invasive membrane components phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, the Rac GTPase MIG-2, and F-actin further indicate that INA-1/PAT-3 plays a broad role in promoting the plasma membrane association of these molecules. Taken together, these studies reveal a role for integrin in regulating the plasma membrane targeting and netrin-dependent orientation of a specialized invasive membrane domain.

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    ABSTRACT: How extracellular molecules influence the direction of axon guidance is poorly understood. The HSN axon of Caenorhabditis elegans is guided towards a ventral source of secreted UNC-6 (netrin). The axon's outgrowth response to UNC-6 is mediated by the UNC-40 (DCC) receptor. We have proposed that in response to the UNC-6 molecule the direction of UNC-40-mediated axon outgrowth is stochastically determined. The direction of guidance is controlled by asymmetric cues, including the gradient of UNC-6, that regulate the probability that UNC-40-mediated axon outgrowth is directed on average, over time, in a specific direction. Here we provide genetic evidence that a specialized extracellular matrix, which lies ventral to the HSN cell body, regulates the probability that UNC-40-mediated axon outgrowth will be directed ventrally towards the matrix. We show that mutations that disrupt the function of proteins associated with this matrix, UNC-52 (perlecan), UNC-112 (kindlin), VAB-19 (Kank), and UNC-97 (PINCH), decrease the probability of UNC-40-mediated axon outgrowth in the ventral direction, while increasing the probability of outgrowth in the anterior and posterior directions. Other results suggest that INA-1 (α integrin) and MIG-15 (NIK kinase) signaling mediate the response in HSN. Although the AVM axon also migrates through this matrix, the mutations have little effect on the direction of AVM axon outgrowth, indicating that responses to the matrix are cell-specific. Together, these results suggest that an extracellular matrix can regulate the direction of UNC-6 guidance by increasing the probability that UNC-40-mediated axon outgrowth activity will be oriented in a specific direction.
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