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Open Access Research article

Glia maturation factor gamma regulates the migration and adherence of human T lymphocytes

Dustin ND Lippert1 and John A Wilkins12*

Author Affiliations

1 Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

2 Departments of Internal Medicine and Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

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BMC Immunology 2012, 13:21  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-13-21

Published: 18 April 2012



Lymphocyte migration and chemotaxis are essential for effective immune surveillance. A critical aspect of migration is cell polarization and the extension of pseudopodia in the direction of movement. However, our knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for these events is incomplete. Proteomic analysis of the isolated leading edges of CXCL12 stimulated human T cell lines was used to identify glia maturation factor gamma (GMFG) as a component of the pseudopodia. This protein is predominantly expressed in hematopoietic cells and it has been shown to regulate cytoskeletal branching. The present studies were undertaken to examine the role of GMFG in lymphocyte migration.


Microscopic analysis of migrating T-cells demonstrated that GMFG was distributed along the axis of movement with enrichment in the leading edge and behind the nucleus of these cells. Inhibition of GMFG expression in T cell lines and IL-2 dependent human peripheral blood T cells with shRNAmir reduced cellular basal and chemokine induced migration responses. The failure of the cells with reduced GMFG to migrate was associated with an apparent inability to detach from the substrates that they were moving on. It was also noted that these cells had an increased adherence to extracellular matrix proteins such as fibronectin. These changes in adherence were associated with altered patterns of β1 integrin expression and increased levels of activated integrins as detected with the activation specific antibody HUTS4. GMFG loss was also shown to increase the expression of the β2 integrin LFA-1 and to increase the adhesion of these cells to ICAM-1.


The present studies demonstrate that GMFG is a component of human T cell pseudopodia required for migration. The reduction in migration and increased adherence properties associated with inhibition of GMFG expression suggest that GMFG activity influences the regulation of integrin mediated adhesion.

T lymphocytes; Chemotaxis; CXCL12; Pseudopodia; Glia maturation factor gamma; GMFG; Proteomics; ShRNAmir; Adhesion