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Optogenetic control of receptors reveals distinct roles for actin- and Cdc42-dependent negative signals in chemotactic signal processing

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During chemotaxis, neutrophils use cell surface G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) to detect chemoattractant gradients 1–4 . The downstream signaling system is wired with multiple feedback loops that amplify weak inputs and promote spatial separation of cell front and rear activities 1, 5–8 . Positive feedback could promote rapid signal spreading 9 , yet information from the receptors is transmitted with high spatial fidelity, enabling detection of small differences in chemoattractant concentration across the cell 1 . How the signal transduction network achieves signal amplification while preserving spatial information remains unclear. The GTPase Cdc42 is a cell-front polarity coordinator that is predictive of cell turning, suggesting an important role in spatial processing 10 . To directly measure information flow from receptors to Cdc42, we paired zebrafish parapinopsina, an optogenetic GPCR that allows reversible ON/OFF receptor control with a spectrally compatible red/far red Cdc42 FRET biosensor. Using this new toolkit, we show that positive and negative signals downstream of G-proteins shape a rapid, dose-dependent Cdc42 response. Furthermore, F-actin and Cdc42 itself provide two distinct negative signals that limit the duration and spatial spread of Cdc42 activation, maintaining output signals local to the originating receptors.

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