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Keywords:

  • cell migration;
  • border cells;
  • Drosophila;
  • Hedgehog;
  • Par-1;
  • Rac

Background: Cell motility is essential for embryonic development and physiological processes such as the immune response, but also contributes to pathological conditions such as tumor progression and inflammation. However, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying migratory processes is incomplete. Drosophila border cells provide a powerful genetic model to identify the roles of genes that contribute to cell migration. Results: Members of the Hedgehog signaling pathway were uncovered in two independent screens for interactions with the small GTPase Rac and the polarity protein Par-1 in border cell migration. Consistent with a role in migration, multiple Hh signaling components were enriched in the migratory border cells. Interference with Hh signaling by several different methods resulted in incomplete cell migration. Moreover, the polarized distribution of E-Cadherin and a marker of tyrosine kinase activity were altered when Hh signaling was disrupted. Conservation of Hh-Rac and Hh-Par-1 signaling was illustrated in the wing, in which Hh-dependent phenotypes were enhanced by loss of Rac or par-1. Conclusions: We identified a pathway by which Hh signaling connects to Rac and Par-1 in cell migration. These results further highlight the importance of modifier screens in the identification of new genes that function in developmental pathways. Developmental Dynamics 242:414–431, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.