Correct regionalization of a tissue primordium is essential for coordinated morphogenesis.
During organ development, tubular organs often form from flat epithelial primordia. In the placodes of the forming tubes of the salivary glands in the Drosophila embryo, we previously identified spatially defined cell behaviors of cell wedging, tilting, and cell intercalation that are key to the initial stages of tube formation. Here, we address what the requirements are that ensure the continuous formation of a narrow symmetrical tube from an initially asymmetrical primordium whilst overall tissue geometry is constantly changing. We are using live-imaging and quantitative methods to compare wild-type placodes and mutants that either show disrupted cell behaviors or an initial symmetrical placode organization, with both resulting in severe impairment of the invagination. We find that early transcriptional patterning of key morphogenetic transcription factors drives the selective activation of downstream morphogenetic modules, such as GPCR signaling that activates apical-medial actomyosin activity to drive cell wedging at the future asymmetrically placed invagination point. Over time, transcription of key factors expands across the rest of the placode and cells switch their behavior from predominantly intercalating to predominantly apically constricting as their position approaches the invagination pit. Misplacement or enlargement of the initial invagination pit leads to early problems in cell behaviors that eventually result in a defective organ shape. Our work illustrates that the dynamic patterning of the expression of transcription factors and downstream morphogenetic effectors ensures positionally fixed areas of cell behavior with regards to the invagination point. This patterning in combination with the asymmetric geometrical setup ensures functional organ formation.
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