In vivo migration: a germ cell perspective

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2006;22:237-65. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.22.010305.103337.


The basic concepts of the molecular machinery that mediates cell migration have been gleaned from cell culture systems. However, the three-dimensional environment within an organism presents migrating cells with a much greater challenge. They must move between and among other cells while interpreting multiple attractive and repulsive cues to choose their proper path. They must coordinate their cell adhesion with their surroundings and know when to start and stop moving. New insights into the control of these remaining mysteries have emerged from genetic dissection and live imaging of germ cell migration in Drosophila, zebrafish, and mouse embryos. In this review, we first describe germ cell migration in cellular and mechanistic detail in these different model systems. We then compare these systems to highlight the emerging principles. Finally, we contrast the migration of germ cells with that of immune and cancer cells to outline the conserved and different mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement*
  • Drosophila / cytology
  • Germ Cells / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Zebrafish / physiology