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Science 323 (5916): 943-946

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

An ABC Transporter Controls Export of a Drosophila Germ Cell Attractant

Sara Ricardo, and Ruth Lehmann*

Abstract: Directed cell migration, which is critical for embryonic development, leukocyte trafficking, and cell metastasis, depends on chemoattraction. 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase regulates the production of an attractant for Drosophila germ cells that may itself be geranylated. Chemoattractants are commonly secreted through a classical, signal peptide–dependent pathway, but a geranyl-modified attractant would require an alternative pathway. In budding yeast, pheromones produced by a-cells are farnesylated and secreted in a signal peptide–independent manner, requiring the adenosine triphosphate–binding cassette (ABC) transporter Ste6p. Here we show that Drosophila germ cell migration uses a similar pathway, demonstrating that invertebrate germ cells, like yeast cells, are attracted to lipid-modified peptides. Components of this unconventional export pathway are highly conserved, suggesting that this pathway may control the production of similarly modified chemoattractants in organisms ranging from yeast to humans.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine at the Skirball Institute, Department of Cell Biology, New York University School of Medicine, New York University, 540 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: lehmann{at}

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