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J Cell Sci. 2003 Apr 15;116(Pt 8):1505-18.

Essential role of the C. elegans Arp2/3 complex in cell migration during ventral enclosure.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Migration of cells through the reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton is essential for morphogenesis of multicellular animals. In a cell culture system, the actin-related protein (Arp) 2/3 complex functions as a nucleation core for actin polymerization when activated by the members of the WASP (Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein) family. However, the regulation of cell motility in vivo remains poorly understood. Here we report that homologues of the mammalian Arp2/3 complex and N-WASP in Caenorhabditis elegans play an important role in hypodermal cell migration during morphogenesis, a process known as ventral enclosure. In the absence of one of any of the C. elegans Arp2/3 complex subunits (ARX-1, ARX-2, ARX-4, ARX-5, ARX-6 or ARX-7) or of N-WASP (WSP-1), hypodermal cell migration led by actin-rich filopodia formation is inhibited during ventral enclosure owing to the reduction of filamentous actin formation. However, there is no effect on differentiation of hypodermal cells and dorsal intercalation. Disruption of the function of ARX-1 and WSP-1 in hypodermal cells also resulted in hypodermal cell arrest during ventral enclosure, suggesting that their function is cell autonomous. WSP-1 protein activated Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization in vitro. Consistent with these results, the Arp2/3 complex and WSP-1 colocalized at the leading edge of migrating hypodermal cells. The stable localization of WSP-1 was dependent on the presence of Arp2/3 complex, suggesting an interaction between the Arp2/3 complex and WSP-1 in vivo.

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