Cell migration is a complicated process, and the ease of genetic manipulation in the fruit fly Drosophila makes it an ideal organism for investigating the genes involved. Add some great live imaging to the mix, and you are a big step closer to understanding cell migration.
Border cells are a cluster of migratory cells in the fly egg chamber that are required for proper fertilization of the egg and early patterning of the embryo. This group of 6-10 cells collectively moves to one end of the egg chamber, where the oocyte resides. A recent paper looks at how these cells move collectively by responding to the different guidance cues. These guidance cues affect the formation, size, and productivity of cell extensions that are crucial for migration. Images above show border cells (green) in the egg chamber (left, white line shows the track of one cell during migration). Higher magnification images of the cell cluster (right) show the more streamlined shape of the cluster during the faster early phase of migration, compared with the late phase.
BONUS!! For a verrrrry cool movie of border cell migration, click here. For many great more movies from this paper, click here.
Poukkula, M., Cliffe, A., Changede, R., & Rorth, P. (2011). Cell behaviors regulated by guidance cues in collective migration of border cells originally published in The Journal of Cell Biology, 192 (3), 513-524 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201010003