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Lammel, U., Bechtold, M., Risse, B., Berh, D., Fleige, A., Bunse, I., Jiang, X., Klämbt, C., Bogdan, S. (2014). The Drosophila FHOD1-like formin Knittrig acts through Rok to promote stress fiber formation and directed macrophage migration during the cellular immune response.  Development 141(6): 1366--1380.
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A tight spatiotemporal control of actin polymerization is important for many cellular processes that shape cells into a multicellular organism. The formation of unbranched F-actin is induced by several members of the formin family. Drosophila encodes six formin genes, representing six of the seven known mammalian subclasses. Knittrig, the Drosophila homolog of mammalian FHOD1, is specifically expressed in the developing central nervous system midline glia, the trachea, the wing and in macrophages. knittrig mutants exhibit mild tracheal defects but survive until late pupal stages and mainly die as pharate adult flies. knittrig mutant macrophages are smaller and show reduced cell spreading and cell migration in in vivo wounding experiments. Rescue experiments further demonstrate a cell-autonomous function of Knittrig in regulating actin dynamics and cell migration. Knittrig localizes at the rear of migrating macrophages in vivo, suggesting a cellular requirement of Knittrig in the retraction of the trailing edge. Supporting this notion, we found that Knittrig is a target of the Rho-dependent kinase Rok. Co-expression with Rok or expression of an activated form of Knittrig induces actin stress fibers in macrophages and in epithelial tissues. Thus, we propose a model in which Rok-induced phosphorylation of residues within the basic region mediates the activation of Knittrig in controlling macrophage migration.

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