Coordination of cytoskeletal dynamics and cell behaviour during Drosophila abdominal morphogenesis.
ABSTRACT: During morphogenesis, cells exhibit various behaviours, such as migration and constriction, which need to be coordinated. How this is achieved remains elusive. During morphogenesis of the Drosophila adult abdominal epidermis, larval epithelial cells (LECs) migrate directedly before constricting apically and undergoing apoptosis. Here, we study the mechanisms underlying the transition from migration to constriction. We show that LECs possess a pulsatile apical actomyosin network, and that a change in network polarity correlates with behavioural change. Exploring the properties of the contractile network, we find that cell contractility, as determined by myosin activity, has an impact on the behaviour of the network, as well as on cytoskeletal architecture and cell behaviour. Pulsed contractions occur only in cells with intermediate levels of contractility. Furthermore, increasing levels of the small Rho GTPase Rho1 disrupts pulsing, leading to cells that cycle between two states, characterised by a junctional cortical and an apicomedial actin network. Our results highlight that behavioural change relies on tightly controlled cellular contractility. Moreover, we show that constriction can occur without pulsing, raising questions why constricting cells pulse in some contexts but not in others.
Project description:During development, forces transmitted between cells are critical for sculpting epithelial tissues. Actomyosin contractility in the middle of the cell apex (medioapical) can change cell shape (e.g., apical constriction) but can also result in force transmission between cells via attachments to adherens junctions. How actomyosin networks maintain attachments to adherens junctions under tension is poorly understood. Here, we discovered that microtubules promote actomyosin intercellular attachments in epithelia during <i>Drosophila melanogaster</i> mesoderm invagination. First, we used live imaging to show a novel arrangement of the microtubule cytoskeleton during apical constriction: medioapical Patronin (CAMSAP) foci formed by actomyosin contraction organized an apical noncentrosomal microtubule network. Microtubules were required for mesoderm invagination but were not necessary for initiating apical contractility or adherens junction assembly. Instead, microtubules promoted connections between medioapical actomyosin and adherens junctions. These results delineate a role for coordination between actin and microtubule cytoskeletal systems in intercellular force transmission during tissue morphogenesis.
Project description:Apical constriction is a change in cell shape that drives key morphogenetic events including gastrulation and neural tube formation. Apical force-producing actomyosin networks drive apical constriction by contracting while connected to cell-cell junctions. The mechanisms by which developmental patterning regulates these actomyosin networks and associated junctions with spatial precision are not fully understood. Here we identify a myosin light-chain kinase MRCK-1 as a key regulator of C. elegans gastrulation that integrates spatial and developmental patterning information. We show that MRCK-1 is required for activation of contractile actomyosin dynamics and elevated cortical tension in the apical cell cortex of endoderm precursor cells. MRCK-1 is apically localized by active Cdc42 at the external, cell-cell contact-free surfaces of apically constricting cells, downstream of cell fate determination mechanisms. We establish that the junctional components ?-catenin, ?-catenin, and cadherin become highly enriched at the apical junctions of apically constricting cells and that MRCK-1 and myosin activity are required in vivo for this enrichment. Taken together, our results define mechanisms that position a myosin activator to a specific cell surface where it both locally increases cortical tension and locally enriches junctional components to facilitate apical constriction. These results reveal crucial links that can tie spatial information to local force generation to drive morphogenesis.
Project description:Cell migrations are an important feature of animal development. They are, furthermore, essential to wound healing and tumour progression. Despite recent progress, it is still mysterious how cell migration is spatially and temporally regulated during morphogenesis and how cell migration is coordinated with other cellular behaviours to shape tissues and organs. The formation of the abdominal epithelium of Drosophila during metamorphosis provides an attractive system to study morphogenesis. Here, the diploid adult histoblasts replace the polyploid larval epithelial cells (LECs). Using in vivo 4D microscopy, I show that, besides apical constriction and apoptosis, the LECs undergo extensive coordinated migrations. The migrations follow a transition from a stationary (epithelial) to a migratory mode. The migratory behaviour is stimulated by autocrine Dpp signalling. Directed apical lamellipodia-like protrusions propel the cells. Initially, planar cell polarity determines the orientation of LEC migration. While LECs are migrating they also constrict apically, and changes in activity of the small GTPase Rho1 can favour one behaviour over the other. This study shows that the LECs play a more active role in morphogenesis than previously thought, with their migrations contributing to abdominal closure. It furthermore provides insights into how the migratory behaviour of cells is regulated during morphogenesis.
Project description:Cell shape changes are critical for morphogenetic events such as gastrulation, neurulation, and organogenesis. However, the cell biology driving cell shape changes is poorly understood, especially in vertebrates. The beginning of Xenopus laevis gastrulation is marked by the apical constriction of bottle cells in the dorsal marginal zone, which bends the tissue and creates a crevice at the blastopore lip. We found that bottle cells contribute significantly to gastrulation, as their shape change can generate the force required for initial blastopore formation. As actin and myosin are often implicated in contraction, we examined their localization and function in bottle cells. F-actin and activated myosin accumulate apically in bottle cells, and actin and myosin inhibitors either prevent or severely perturb bottle cell formation, showing that actomyosin contractility is required for apical constriction. Microtubules were localized in apicobasally directed arrays in bottle cells, emanating from the apical surface. Surprisingly, apical constriction was inhibited in the presence of nocodazole but not taxol, suggesting that intact, but not dynamic, microtubules are required for apical constriction. Our results indicate that actomyosin contractility is required for bottle cell morphogenesis and further suggest a novel and unpredicted role for microtubules during apical constriction.
Project description:During morphogenesis, contraction of the actomyosin cytoskeleton within individual cells drives cell shape changes that fold tissues. Coordination of cytoskeletal contractility is mediated by regulating RhoA GTPase activity. Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) activate and GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) inhibit RhoA activity. Most studies of tissue folding, including apical constriction, have focused on how RhoA is activated by GEFs to promote cell contractility, with little investigation as to how GAPs may be important. Here, we identify a critical role for a RhoA GAP, Cumberland GAP (C-GAP), which coordinates with a RhoA GEF, RhoGEF2, to organize spatiotemporal contractility during Drosophila melanogaster apical constriction. C-GAP spatially restricts RhoA pathway activity to a central position in the apical cortex. RhoGEF2 pulses precede myosin, and C-GAP is required for pulsation, suggesting that contractile pulses result from RhoA activity cycling. Finally, C-GAP expression level influences the transition from reversible to irreversible cell shape change, which defines the onset of tissue shape change. Our data demonstrate that RhoA activity cycling and modulating the ratio of RhoGEF2 to C-GAP are required for tissue folding.
Project description:The adult mammalian intestine is composed of two connected structures, the absorptive villi and the crypts, which house progenitor cells. Mouse crypts develop postnatally and are the architectural unit of the stem cell niche, yet the pathways that drive their formation are not known. Here, we combine transcriptomic, quantitative morphometric, and genetic analyses to identify mechanisms of crypt development. We uncover the upregulation of a contractility gene network at the earliest stage of crypt formation, which drives myosin II-dependent apical constriction and invagination of the crypt progenitor cells. Subsequently, hinges form, compartmentalizing crypts from villi. Hinges contain basally constricted cells, and this cell shape change was inhibited by increased hemidesmosomal adhesion in Rac1 null mice. Loss of hinges resulted in reduced villar spacing, revealing an unexpected role for crypts in tissue architecture and physiology. These studies provide a framework for studying crypt morphogenesis and identify essential regulators of niche formation.
Project description:Dermal lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) emerge from the dorsolateral region of the cardinal veins within the anterior trunk to form an intricate, branched network of lymphatic vessels during embryogenesis. Multiple growth factors and receptors are required for specification and maintenance of LECs, but the mechanisms coordinating LEC movements and morphogenesis to develop three-dimensional lymphatic network architecture are not well understood. Here, we demonstrate in mice that precise LEC sprouting is a key process leading to stereotypical lymphatic network coverage throughout the developing skin, and that transforming growth factor ? (TGF?) signaling is required for LEC sprouting and proper lymphatic network patterning in vivo. We utilized a series of conditional mutants to ablate the TGF? receptors Tgfbr1 (Alk5) and Tgfbr2 in LECs. To analyze lymphatic defects, we developed a novel, whole-mount embryonic skin imaging technique to visualize sprouting lymphangiogenesis and patterning at the lymphatic network level. Loss of TGF? signaling in LECs leads to a severe reduction in local lymphangiogenic sprouting, resulting in a significant decrease in global lymphatic network branching complexity within the skin. Our results also demonstrate that TGF? signaling negatively regulates LEC proliferation during lymphatic network formation. These data suggest a dual role for TGF? signaling during lymphatic network morphogenesis in the skin, such that it enhances LEC sprouting and branching complexity while attenuating LEC proliferation.
Project description:Embryo-scale morphogenesis arises from patterned mechanical forces. During Drosophila gastrulation, actomyosin contractility drives apical constriction in ventral cells, leading to furrow formation and mesoderm invagination. It remains unclear whether and how mechanical properties of the ectoderm influence this process. Here, we show that Neuralized (Neur), an E3 ubiquitin ligase active in the mesoderm, regulates collective apical constriction and furrow formation. Conversely, the Bearded (Brd) proteins antagonize maternal Neur and lower medial-apical contractility in the ectoderm: in Brd-mutant embryos, the ventral furrow invaginates properly but rapidly unfolds as medial MyoII levels increase in the ectoderm. Increasing contractility in the ectoderm via activated Rho similarly triggers furrow unfolding whereas decreasing contractility restores furrow invagination in Brd-mutant embryos. Thus, the inhibition of Neur by Brd in the ectoderm differentiates the mechanics of the ectoderm from that of the mesoderm and patterns the activity of MyoII along the dorsal-ventral axis.
Project description:In epithelia, cells adhere to each other in a dynamic fashion, allowing the cells to change their shape and move along each other during morphogenesis. The regulation of adhesion occurs at the belt-shaped adherens junction, the zonula adherens (ZA). Formation of the ZA depends on components of the Par-atypical PKC (Par-aPKC) complex of polarity regulators. We have identified the Lin11, Isl-1, Mec-3 (LIM) protein Smallish (Smash), the orthologue of vertebrate LMO7, as a binding partner of Bazooka/Par-3 (Baz), a core component of the Par-aPKC complex. Smash also binds to Canoe/Afadin and the tyrosine kinase Src42A and localizes to the ZA in a planar polarized fashion. Animals lacking Smash show loss of planar cell polarity (PCP) in the embryonic epidermis and reduced cell bond tension, leading to severe defects during embryonic morphogenesis of epithelial tissues and organs. Overexpression of Smash causes apical constriction of epithelial cells. We propose that Smash is a key regulator of morphogenesis coordinating PCP and actomyosin contractility at the ZA.
Project description:Cytokinesis in animal cells requires the constriction of an actomyosin contractile ring, whose architecture and mechanism remain poorly understood. We use laser microsurgery to explore the biophysical properties of constricting rings in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Laser cutting causes rings to snap open. However, instead of disintegrating, ring topology recovers and constriction proceeds. In response to severing, a finite gap forms and is repaired by recruitment of new material in an actin polymerization-dependent manner. An open ring is able to constrict, and rings repair from successive cuts. After gap repair, an increase in constriction velocity allows cytokinesis to complete at the same time as controls. Our analysis demonstrates that tension in the ring increases while net cortical tension at the site of ingression decreases throughout constriction and suggests that cytokinesis is accomplished by contractile modules that assemble and contract autonomously, enabling local repair of the actomyosin network. Consequently, cytokinesis is a highly robust process impervious to discontinuities in contractile ring structure.