The genetic control of collective cell migration: insights from the neural crest

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr Claudia Linker

    King's College London

Project summary

Collective cell migration refers to the movement of a cell population that acquires directionality through cell to cell interactions. All cells of the group may be capable of reading directional cues, or they may divide their labour with ‘leader’ cells indicating the path to rest of the group. The precise molecular signals that control cell identities and behaviour in the context of collective cell migration remain unclear. We have studied this process in neural crest (NC) cells, a highly migratory population that arise early during embryogenesis. Our recent work has demonstrated that zebrafish trunk NC (TNC) migrate collectively and present non-exchangeable leader and follower identities. The firm allocation of TNC identities strongly suggests these are transcriptionally regulated.

We will generate new NC zebrafish reporter lines that will allow the specific labelling of TNC populations by photo-conversion, identifying leader, follower or premigratory cells. Labelled cells will then be isolated and processed for RNA-Seq.

The datasets will allow us to characterise leader, follower and premigratory cells transcriptomic signatures which is an essential step towards the elucidation of the genetic networks controlling TNC identities and behaviour.