Background: Cells show directed migration response to electric signals, namely electrotaxis or galvanotaxis. PI3K and PTEN jointly play counterbalancing roles in this event via a bilateral regulation of PIP3 signaling. PI3K has been proved essential in anterior signaling of electrotaxing cells, whilst the role of PTEN remains elusive.
Methods: Dictyostelium cells with different genetic backgrounds were treated with direct current electric signals to investigate the genetic regulation of electrotaxis.
Results: We demonstrated that electric signals promoted PTEN phosphatase activity and asymmetrical translocation to the posterior plasma membrane of the electrotaxing cells. Electric stimulation produced a similar but delayed rear redistribution of myosin II, immediately before electrotaxis started. Actin polymerization is required for the asymmetric membrane translocation of PTEN and myosin. PTEN signaling is also responsible for the asymmetric anterior redistribution of PIP3/F-actin, and a biased redistribution of pseudopod protrusion in the forwarding direction of electrotaxing cells.
Conclusions: PTEN controls electrotaxis by coordinately regulating asymmetric redistribution of myosin to the posterior, and PIP3/F-actin to the anterior region of the directed migration cells.
Keywords: Cell migration; Electric field; Electrotaxis; F-actin; Galvanotaxis; Myosin; PH-Crac; PIP3; PTEN.