Local negative feedback of Rac activity at the leading edge underlies a pilot pseudopod-like program for amoeboid cell guidance.
Abstract: To migrate efficiently, neutrophils must polarize their cytoskeletal regulators along a single axis of motion. This polarization process is thought to be mediated through local positive feedback that amplifies leading edge signals and global negative feedback that enables sites of positive feedback to compete for dominance. Though this two-component model efficiently establishes cell polarity, it has potential limitations, including a tendency to "lock" onto a particular direction, limiting the ability of cells to reorient. We use spatially defined optogenetic control of a leading edge organizer (PI3K) to probe how neutrophil-like HL-60 cells balance "decisiveness" needed to polarize in a single direction with the flexibility needed to respond to new cues. Underlying this balancing act is a local Rac inhibition process that destabilizes the leading edge to promote exploration. We show that this local inhibition enables cells to process input signal dynamics, linking front stability and orientation to local temporal increases in input signals.