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Distinct RhoGEFs activate apical and junctional actomyosin contractility under control of G proteins during epithelial morphogenesis
Small RhoGTPases and Myosin-II direct cell shape changes and movements during tissue morphogenesis. Their activities are tightly regulated in space and time to specify the desired pattern of contractility that supports tissue morphogenesis. This is expected to stem from polarized surface stimuli and from polarized signaling processing inside cells. We examined this general problem in the context of cell intercalation that drives extension of the Drosophila ectoderm. In the ectoderm, G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their downstream heterotrimeric G proteins (Gα and Gβγ) activate Rho1 both medial-apically, where it exhibits pulsed dynamics, and at junctions, where its activity is planar polarized (Kerridge et al., 2016; Munjal et al., 2015). However, the mechanisms responsible for polarizing Rho1 activity are unclear. In particular, it is unknown how Rho1 activity is controlled at junctions. We report a division of labor in the mechanisms of Rho1 activation in that distinct guanine exchange factors (GEFs), that serve as activators of Rho1, operate in these distinct cellular compartments. RhoGEF2 acts uniquely to activate medial-apical Rho1. Although RhoGEF2 is recruited both medial-apically and at junctions by Gα12/13-GTP, also called Concertina (Cta) in Drosophila, its activity is restricted to the medial-apical compartment. Furthermore, we characterize a novel RhoGEF, p114RhoGEF/Wireless (Wrl), and report its requirement for cell intercalation in the extending ectoderm. p114RhoGEF/Wireless activates Rho1 specifically at junctions. Strikingly it is restricted to adherens junctions and is under Gβ13F/Gγ1 control. Gβ13F/Gγ1 activates junctional Rho1 and exerts quantitative control over planar polarization of Rho1. In particular, overexpression of Gβ13F/Gγ1 leads to hyper planar polarization of Rho1 and MyoII. Finally, we found that p114RhoGEF/Wireless is absent in the mesoderm, arguing for a tissue-specific control over junctional Rho1 activity. These results shed light on the mechanisms of polarization of Rho1 activity in different cellular compartments and reveal that distinct GEFs are sensitive tuning parameters of cell contractility in remodeling epithelia.
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