Neutrophil chemotaxis and transmigration towards a source of inflammation are two crucial processes for host defense against infection that rely on integrin function. Recently, integrin-independent migration of dendritic cells to the lymph node has been brought to light, although neutrophil migration in the presence of EDTA was reported many years ago. Ca2+ and diacylglycerol-regulated guanine nucleotide exchange factor I (CalDAG-GEFI), is a small signaling protein that plays a key role in the activation of beta-1, beta-2, and beta-3 integrins in platelets and neutrophils by activating the small GTPase Rap1. We explored the role of CalDAG-GEFI in integrin-independent chemotaxis in neutrophils. Here we report that CalDAG-GEFI−/− neutrophils have impaired chemotaxis that is independent of integrin function. In a chemotaxis transwell assay towards LTB4 and in the presence of 10mM EDTA, CalDAG-GEFI−/− neutrophils had a 50% reduction in transmigration over 60 minutes compared to wild-type (WT) neutrophils (p<0.05). In separate experiments we confirmed that the transwell assay is independent of integrins using either CD18−/− neutrophils or WT neutrophils plus a blocking anti-CD18 monoclonal antibody. We previously showed that LTB4 signaling upstream of CalDAG-GEFI was not affected in CalDAG-GEFI−/− neutrophils, as assessed by intracellular calcium flux measurements. Using videomicroscopy to visualize the live migrating neutrophils in a horizontal plate in the presence of 10mM EDTA, we found that the reason CalDAG-GEFI−/− neutrophils fail to reach the chemotactic stimulus (10 pg/mL LTB4) is because they have a significantly reduced migration speed compared to WT neutrophils (16 um/sec vs. 23 um/sec, p<0.05), and also because they have an abnormal chemotactic directionality, with a directionality index (the distance between the start and finish points of a migrating neutrophil/total distance covered by the migrating neutrophil) of 0.84 vs 0.94 in WT neutrophils, p<0.05. We investigated whether the observed differences in chemotaxis between CalDAG-GEFI−/− and WT neutrophils could be explained by differences in F-actin polymerization. Using fluorescence microscopy, we found that the percentage of CalDAG-GEFI−/− neutrophils with F-actin pseudopodia after LTB4 stimulation was significantly lower compared to WT neutrophils (22% vs. 56.7%, p<0.05), suggesting that CalDAG-GEFI−/− neutrophils have a defect in F-actin polymerization. Overall, our studies suggest that CalDAG-GEFI plays a role in the mechanisms that regulate both the migration speed and direction of neutrophils during chemotaxis, independent of its established role in integrin activation.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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