For effective migration, cells must establish an asymmetry in cell/substratum biophysical interactions permitting cellular protrusive and contractile motive forces to produce net cell body translocation; often this is superficially manifested as a polarized cell shape. This change is most easily noted for epithelial cells, which typically undergo a mesenchymal transition prior to rapid motility, and for hematopoietic cells, which must transition from non-adherent to adherent states. These two situations entail dramatic changes that also involve cell-cell contact and differentiation-related changes, and thus introduce confounding events and signals in defining control elements. Hence, a simpler biochemical and biophysical model system may be useful for gaining fundamental insights into the underlying mechanisms. Fortunately, even relatively "uniform" fibroblasts also undergo an initial shape change to commence locomotion. Investigators have recently begun to probe underlying signals that contribute to the reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. We describe here a model for fibroblast shape changes involved in epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation of motility, focusing on signals through EGF receptor (EGFR) -mediated pathways influencing cytoskeletal organization and cell/substratum adhesion. We present new data addressing specifically phospholipase C-gamma (PLCgamma) pathway activation of actin-modifying proteins, including gelsolin, that contributes to these changes and promotes cell migration by increasing the fraction of cells in a motility-permissive morphology and the time spent in such a state.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.