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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2003 Dec;35(12):1619-38.

Signaling to migration in neutrophils: importance of localized pathways.

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Department of Pathology, University of Bern, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.


Neutrophils, a major type of blood leukocytes, are indispensable for host defense of bacterial infections. Directed migration in a gradient of chemotactic stimuli enables these cells to rapidly find the site of infection and destroy the invading pathogens. Chemotactic factors bind to seven-transmembrane-domain receptors and activate heterotrimeric G-proteins. Downstream of these proteins a complex interrelated signaling network is activated in human neutrophils. Stimulation of phospholipase C beta results in activation of protein kinase C isoforms and increases in cytosolic calcium. Activation of the enzyme phosphoinositide 3-kinase results in increased production of phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate and phosphatidyl 3,4-bisphosphate. In addition, small GTP-binding proteins of the Rho family, the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade, tyrosine kinases and protein phosphatases are activated. The enzyme phosphoinositide 3-kinase and the small cytosolic GTP-binding proteins Rho and Rac emerge as key regulators of neutrophil migration. A steep internal gradient of phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate, with a high concentration in the leading lamellae, is thought to regulate polarized actin polymerization and formation of protrusions, together with Rac which may be more directly involved in initiating actin reorganization. Rho may regulate localized myosin activation, tail retraction, cell body traction and dynamics of adhesion. The impact of these different signaling pathways on reversible actin polymerization, development of polarity, reversible adhesion and migration, and the putative targets of these pathways in neutrophils, are reviewed in this article. Insight into mechanisms regulating migration of neutrophils could potentially lead to novel therapeutic strategies for counteracting chronic activation of neutrophils which leads to tissue damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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