Repository logo

Integrin-Mediated Focal Anchorage Drives Epithelial Zippering during Mouse Neural Tube Closure.

Published version



Change log


Molè, Matteo A 
Galea, Gabriel L 
Rolo, Ana 
Nychyk, Oleksandr 


Epithelial fusion is a key process of morphogenesis by which tissue connectivity is established between adjacent epithelial sheets. A striking and poorly understood feature of this process is "zippering," whereby a fusion point moves directionally along an organ rudiment. Here, we uncover the molecular mechanism underlying zippering during mouse spinal neural tube closure. Fusion is initiated via local activation of integrin β1 and focal anchorage of surface ectoderm cells to a shared point of fibronectin-rich basement membrane, where the neural folds first contact each other. Surface ectoderm cells undergo proximal junction shortening, establishing a transitory semi-rosette-like structure at the zippering point that promotes juxtaposition of cells across the midline enabling fusion propagation. Tissue-specific ablation of integrin β1 abolishes the semi-rosette formation, preventing zippering and causing spina bifida. We propose integrin-mediated anchorage as an evolutionarily conserved mechanism of general relevance for zippering closure of epithelial gaps whose disturbance can produce clinically important birth defects.



cell adhesion, epithelial zippering, extracellular matrix, fibronectin, fusion, gap closure, integrins, morphogenesis, neurulation, spina bifida, Actomyosin, Animals, Cell Fusion, Embryo, Mammalian, Epithelial Cells, Female, Focal Adhesions, Integrin beta1, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Knockout, Morphogenesis, Neural Crest, Neural Tube, Neurulation

Journal Title

Dev Cell

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Elsevier BV