Dissecting regulatory networks of Filopodia formation in a Drosophila Growth Cone Model

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Catarina Gonçalves-Pimentel
  • Rita Gombos
  • József Mihály
  • Natalia Sanchez-Soriano
  • Andreas Prokop


F-actin networks are important structural determinants of cell shape and morphogenesis. They are regulated through a number of actin-binding proteins. The function of many of these proteins is well understood, but very little is known about how they cooperate and integrate their activities in cellular contexts. Here, we have focussed on the cellular roles of actin regulators in controlling filopodial dynamics. Filopodia are needle-shaped, actin-driven cell protrusions with characteristic features that are well conserved amongst vertebrates and invertebrates. However, existing models of filopodia formation are still incomplete and controversial, pieced together from a wide range of different organisms and cell types. Therefore, we used embryonic Drosophila primary neurons as one consistent cellular model to study filopodia regulation. Our data for loss-of-function of capping proteins, enabled, different Arp2/3 complex components, the formin DAAM and profilin reveal characteristic changes in filopodia number and length, providing a promising starting point to study their functional relationships in the cellular context. Furthermore, the results are consistent with effects reported for the respective vertebrate homologues, demonstrating the conserved nature of our Drosophila model system. Using combinatorial genetics, we demonstrate that different classes of nucleators cooperate in filopodia formation. In the absence of Arp2/3 or DAAM filopodia numbers are reduced, in their combined absence filopodia are eliminated, and in genetic assays they display strong functional interactions with regard to filopodia formation. The two nucleators also genetically interact with enabled, but not with profilin. In contrast, enabled shows strong genetic interaction with profilin, although loss of profilin alone does not affect filopodia numbers. Our genetic data support a model in which Arp2/3 and DAAM cooperate in a common mechanism of filopodia formation that essentially depends on enabled, and is regulated through profilin activity at different steps. © 2011 Gonçalves-Pimentel et al.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18340
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011