Notch controls the cell cycle to define leader versus follower identities during collective cell migration

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Coordination of cell proliferation and migration is fundamental for life, and its dysregulation has catastrophic consequences, such as cancer. How cell cycle progression affects migration, and vice-versa, remains largely unknown. We address these questions by combining in-silico modelling and in vivo experimentation in the zebrafish Trunk Neural Crest (TNC). TNC migrate collectively, forming chains with a leader cell directing the movement of trailing followers. We show that the acquisition of migratory identity is autonomously controlled by Notch signalling in TNC. High Notch activity defines leaders, while low Notch determines followers. Moreover, cell cycle progression is required for TNC migration and is regulated by Notch. Cells with low Notch activity stay longer in G1 and become followers, while leaders with high Notch activity quickly undergo G1/S transition and remain in S-phase longer. In conclusion, TNC migratory identities are defined through the interaction of Notch signalling and cell cycle progression.

Journal details

Journal eLife
Volume 11
Pages e73550
Available online
Publication date

Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author