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Curr Biol. 2010 Mar 9;20(5):464-70. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.01.047. Epub 2010 Feb 25.

Prioritization of competing damage and developmental signals by migrating macrophages in the Drosophila embryo.

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Department of Biochemistry and Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Bristol, BS8 1TD Bristol, UK.


The function of immune cells is critically dependent on their capacity to respond to a complex series of navigational cues that enable them to home to various organ sites in the body or to respond to inflammatory cues such as those released at sites of tissue damage. From early embryonic stages, immune cells are faced with a barrage of signals that will not all be directing the cell to do the same thing. Here we use the Drosophila embryo to investigate how hemocytes (Drosophila macrophages), are able to prioritize key guidance signals and ignore others so that they are not pulled every which way. We identify the immediate wound attractant signal as H(2)O(2) and investigate how Drosophila macrophages respond to competing guidance cues-those emanating from a wound-versus standard developmental guidance cues, as well as those signals drawing cells toward neighboring dying cells. We reveal a hierarchy of responsiveness to attractant cues that varies over time and we identify why there is a wound refractile period early in embryonic development when macrophages cannot be distracted from their developmental migratory pathway to a site of tissue damage.

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