The study of how cells move in development is not just about development. Understanding cell migration can also help researchers understand how tumors spread and invade other tissues. So, the next time you see someone roll their eyes at your fruit fly egg chambers (or worm vulva, or culture dishes), take pity at their ignorance and explain to them how they should thank you instead.
The movement of cells during development drives the shape changes and organization of an embryo. In the fruit fly ovary, a small cluster of border cells migrates across a region of the egg chamber in order to reach the oocyte. This collective migration of these border cells depends on polarization of the actin cytoskeleton. A recent paper describes the role of the Hippo signaling pathway in driving the polarization of actin to the outer rim of the migrating border cell cluster. Lucas and colleagues found that upstream Hippo pathway components localize to the contacts between border cells within the cluster in order to link polarity signaling with actin cytoskeleton organization. In the images above, the actin cytoskeleton (red) can be seen at the outer rim of the migrating cluster of border cells (arrows) as it moves across the egg chamber towards the oocyte (top to bottom, chronologically). Higher magnification views of the cluster are on the right.
Lucas, E., Khanal, I., Gaspar, P., Fletcher, G., Polesello, C., Tapon, N., & Thompson, B. (2013). The Hippo pathway polarizes the actin cytoskeleton during collective migration of Drosophila border cells originally published in the Journal of Cell Biology, 201 (6), 875-885 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201210073