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Curr Biol. 2013 Jan 7;23(1):32-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.11.014. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Tracking shallow chemical gradients by actin-driven wandering of the polarization site.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Many cells are remarkably proficient at tracking very shallow chemical gradients, despite considerable noise from stochastic receptor-ligand interactions. Motile cells appear to undergo a biased random walk: spatial noise in receptor activity may determine the instantaneous direction, but because noise is spatially unbiased, it is filtered out by time averaging, resulting in net movement upgradient. How nonmotile cells might filter out noise is unknown.

RESULTS:

Using yeast chemotropic mating as a model, we demonstrate that a polarized patch of polarity regulators "wanders" along the cortex during gradient tracking. Computational and experimental findings suggest that actin-directed membrane traffic contributes to wandering by diluting local polarity factors. The pheromone gradient appears to bias wandering via interactions between receptor-activated Gβγ and polarity regulators. Artificially blocking patch wandering impairs gradient tracking.

CONCLUSIONS:

We suggest that the polarity patch undergoes an intracellular biased random walk that enables noise filtering by time averaging, allowing nonmotile cells to track shallow gradients.

PMID:
23200992
PMCID:
PMC3543483
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2012.11.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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