Neutrophils constitute the largest class of white blood cells and are the first responders in the innate immune response. They are able to sense and migrate up concentration gradients of chemoattractants in search of primary sites of infection and inflammation through a process known as chemotaxis. These chemoattractants include formylated peptides and various chemokines. While much is known about chemotaxis to individual chemoattractants, far less is known about chemotaxis towards many. Previous studies have shown that in opposing gradients of intermediate chemoattractants (interleukin-8 and leukotriene B4), neutrophils preferentially migrate toward the more distant source. In this work, we investigated neutrophil chemotaxis in opposing gradients of chemoattractants using a microfluidic platform. We found that primary neutrophils exhibit oscillatory motion in opposing gradients of intermediate chemoattractants. To understand this behavior, we constructed a mathematical model of neutrophil chemotaxis. Our results suggest that sensory adaptation alone cannot explain the observed oscillatory motion. Rather, our model suggests that neutrophils employ a winner-take-all mechanism that enables them to transiently lock onto sensed targets and continuously switch between the intermediate attractant sources as they are encountered. These findings uncover a previously unseen behavior of neutrophils in opposing gradients of chemoattractants that will further aid in our understanding of neutrophil chemotaxis and the innate immune response. In addition, we propose a winner-take-all mechanism allows the cells to avoid stagnation near local chemical maxima when migrating through a network of chemoattractant sources.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)