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Integrins regulate epithelial cell shape by controlling the architecture and mechanical properties of basal actomyosin networks.

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Santa-Cruz Mateos, Carmen  ORCID logo
Valencia-Expósito, Andrea 
Martín-Bermudo, María D  ORCID logo


Forces generated by the actomyosin cytoskeleton are key contributors to many morphogenetic processes. The actomyosin cytoskeleton organises in different types of networks depending on intracellular signals and on cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions. However, actomyosin networks are not static and transitions between them have been proposed to drive morphogenesis. Still, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate the dynamics of actomyosin networks during morphogenesis. This work uses the Drosophila follicular epithelium, real-time imaging, laser ablation and quantitative analysis to study the role of integrins on the regulation of basal actomyosin networks organisation and dynamics and the potential contribution of this role to cell shape. We find that elimination of integrins from follicle cells impairs F-actin recruitment to basal medial actomyosin stress fibers. The available F-actin redistributes to the so-called whip-like structures, present at tricellular junctions, and into a new type of actin-rich protrusions that emanate from the basal cortex and project towards the medial region. These F-actin protrusions are dynamic and changes in total protrusion area correlate with periodic cycles of basal myosin accumulation and constriction pulses of the cell membrane. Finally, we find that follicle cells lacking integrin function show increased membrane tension and reduced basal surface. Furthermore, the actin-rich protrusions are responsible for these phenotypes as their elimination in integrin mutant follicle cells rescues both tension and basal surface defects. We thus propose that the role of integrins as regulators of stress fibers plays a key role on controlling epithelial cell shape, as integrin disruption promotes reorganisation into other types of actomyosin networks, in a manner that interferes with proper expansion of epithelial basal surfaces.



Actomyosin, Animals, Cell Membrane, Cell Shape, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Epithelial Cells, Integrins, Stress Fibers

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PLoS Genet

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/L001748/1)