PloS one

Flotillins are involved in the polarization of primitive and mature hematopoietic cells.

PMID 20027317


Migration of mature and immature leukocytes in response to chemokines is not only essential during inflammation and host defense, but also during development of the hematopoietic system. Many molecules implicated in migratory polarity show uniform cellular distribution under non-activated conditions, but acquire a polarized localization upon exposure to migratory cues. Here, we present evidence that raft-associated endocytic proteins (flotillins) are pre-assembled in lymphoid, myeloid and primitive hematopoietic cells and accumulate in the uropod during migration. Furthermore, flotillins display a polarized distribution during immunological synapse formation. Employing the membrane lipid-order sensitive probe Laurdan, we show that flotillin accumulation in the immunological synapse is concomittant with membrane ordering in these regions. Together with the observation that flotillin polarization does not occur in other polarized cell types such as polarized epithelial cells, our results suggest a specific role for flotillins in hematopoietic cell polarization. Based on our results, we propose that in hematopoietic cells, flotillins provide intrinsic cues that govern segregation of certain microdomain-associated molecules during immune cell polarization.