Cell polarization is a process of coordinated cellular rearrangements that prepare the cell for migration. GM1 is synthesized in the Golgi apparatus and localized in membrane microdomains that appear at the leading edge of polarized cells, but the mechanism by which GM1 accumulates asymmetrically is unknown. The Golgi apparatus itself becomes oriented toward the leading edge during cell polarization, which is thought to contribute to plasma membrane asymmetry. Using quantitative image analysis techniques, we measure the extent of polarization of the Golgi apparatus and GM1 in the plasma membrane simultaneously in individual cells subject to a wound assay. We find that GM1 polarization starts just 10 min after stimulation with growth factors, while Golgi apparatus polarization takes 30 min. Drugs that block Golgi polarization or function have no effect on GM1 polarization, and, conversely, inhibiting GM1 polarization does not affect Golgi apparatus polarization. Evaluation of Golgi apparatus and GM1 polarization in single cells reveals no correlation between the two events. Our results indicate that Golgi apparatus and GM1 polarization are controlled by distinct intracellular cascades involving the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways, respectively. Analysis of cell migration and invasion suggest that MEK/ERK activation is crucial for two dimensional migration, while PI3K activation drives three dimensional invasion, and no cumulative effect is observed from blocking both simultaneously. The independent biochemical control of GM1 polarity by PI3K and Golgi apparatus polarity by MEK/ERK may act synergistically to regulate and reinforce directional selection in cell migration.
Bisel, B., Calamai, M., Vanzi, F., & Pavone, F. S. (2013). Decoupling polarization of the Golgi apparatus and GM1 in the plasma membrane. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080446