Collective behaviors of Drosophila-derived retinal progenitors in controlled microenvironments

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 13;14(12):e0226250. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226250. eCollection 2019.


Collective behaviors of retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) are critical to the development of neural networks needed for vision. Signaling cues and pathways governing retinal cell fate, migration, and functional organization are remarkably conserved across species, and have been well-studied using Drosophila melanogaster. However, the collective migration of heterogeneous groups of RPCs in response to dynamic signaling fields of development remains incompletely understood. This is in large part because the genetic advances of seminal invertebrate models have been poorly complemented by in vitro cell study of its visual development. Tunable microfluidic assays able to replicate the miniature cellular microenvironments of the developing visual system provide newfound opportunities to probe and expand our knowledge of collective chemotactic responses essential to visual development. Our project used a controlled, microfluidic assay to produce dynamic signaling fields of Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) that stimulated the chemotactic migration of primary RPCs extracted from Drosophila. Results illustrated collective RPC chemotaxis dependent on average size of clustered cells, in contrast to the non-directional movement of individually-motile RPCs. Quantitative study of these diverse collective responses will advance our understanding of retina developmental processes, and aid study/treatment of inherited eye disease. Lastly, our unique coupling of defined invertebrate models with tunable microfluidic assays provides advantages for future quantitative and mechanistic study of varied RPC migratory responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Microenvironment*
  • Chemotaxis
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Microfluidics
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology