The chemokine SDF1a coordinates tissue migration through the spatially restricted activation of Cxcr7 and Cxcr4b

Curr Biol. 2007 Jun 19;17(12):1026-31. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.020.


Tissue migration is a collective behavior that plays a key role in the formation of many organ systems. Although tissue movements are guided by extrinsic cues, in many contexts, their receptors need to be active only at the leading edge to ensure morphogenesis. This has led to the prevalent view that extrinsic signals exert their influence by controlling a small number of leader cells. The zebrafish lateral-line primordium is a cohesive cohort of over 100 cells that is guided through CXCR4-SDF1 signaling. Recent work has shown that Cxcr4b activity is only required in cells at the very tip, raising the question of what controls cell behavior within trailing regions. Here, we present the first mutant in zebrafish SDF1a/CXCL12a and show, surprisingly, that the resultant phenotype is stronger than a null mutation in its cognate receptor, Cxcr4b, indicating the involvement of other SDF1a receptors. A candidate approach identified Cxcr7/RDC1, whose expression is restricted to cells behind the leading edge. Morpholino knockdown of Cxcr7 leads to a novel phenotype in which the migration of trailing cells is specifically affected, causing tissue stretching, a defect rescued by the reintroduction of wild-type cells specifically at the back of the primordium. Finally, we present evidence that Cxcr4b and Cxcr7 act independently to regulate group migration. We provide the first example where a single extrinsic guidance cue, SDF1a, directly controls the migration of both leading and trailing edges of a tissue through the activation of two independent receptors, CXCR4b and CXCR7.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Movement
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC / genetics
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / genetics
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism


  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Zebrafish Proteins

Associated data

  • RefSeq/NM_001083832