Single-cell migration is a key process in development, homeostasis, and disease. Nevertheless, the control over basic cellular mechanisms directing cells into motile behavior in vivo is largely unknown. Here, we report on the identification of a minimal set of parameters the regulation of which confers proper morphology and cell motility. Zebrafish primordial germ cells rendered immotile by knockdown of Dead end, a negative regulator of miRNA function, were used as a platform for identifying processes restoring motility. We have defined myosin contractility, cell adhesion, and cortex properties as factors whose proper regulation is sufficient for restoring cell migration of this cell type. Tight control over the level of these cellular features, achieved through a balance between miRNA-430 function and the action of the RNA-binding protein Dead end, effectively transforms immotile primordial germ cells into polarized cells that actively migrate relative to cells in their environment.
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