A cell's sense of direction.
In eukaryotic cells directional sensing is mediated by heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide-binding protein (G protein)-linked signaling pathways. In Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae and mammalian leukocytes, the receptors and G-protein subunits are uniformly distributed around the cell perimeter. Chemoattractants induce the transient appearance of binding sites for several pleckstrin homology domain-containing proteins on the inner face of the membrane. In gradients of attractant these sites are persistently present on the side of the cell facing the higher concentration, even in the absence of a functional actin cytoskeleton or cell movement. Thus, the cell senses direction by spatially regulating the activity of the signal transduction pathway.