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Assembly of a persistent apical actin network by the formin Frl/Fmnl tunes epithelial cell deformability

By Benoit Dehapiot, Raphaël Clément, Gabriella Gazsó-Gerhát, Jean-Marc Philippe, Thomas Lecuit

Posted 23 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/680033

Tissue remodeling during embryogenesis is driven by the apical contractility of the epithelial cell cortex. This behavior arises notably from Rho1/Rok induced transient accumulation of non-muscle myosin II (MyoII pulses) pulling on actin filaments (F-Actin) of the medio-apical cortex. While recent studies begin to highlight the mechanisms governing the emergence of Rho1/Rok/MyoII pulsatility in different organisms, little is known about how the F-Actin organization influences this process. Focusing on Drosophila ectodermal cells during germband extension and amnioserosa cells during dorsal closure, we show that the medio-apical actomyosin cortex consists of two entangled F-Actin subpopulations. One exhibits pulsatile dynamics of actin polymerization in a Rho1 dependent manner. The other forms a persistent and homogeneous network independent of Rho1. We identify the Frl/Fmnl formin as a critical nucleator of the persistent network since modulating its level, in mutants or by overexpression, decreases or increases the network density. Absence of this network yields sparse connectivity affecting the homogeneous force transmission to the cell boundaries. This reduces the propagation range of contractile forces and results in tissue scale morphogenetic defects. Our work sheds new lights on how the F-Actin cortex offers multiple levels of regulation to affect epithelial cells dynamics.

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