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Singh, Amrita; Saha, Tanumoy; Begemann, Isabell; Ricker, Andrea; Nuesse, Harald; Thorn-Seshold, Oliver; Klingauf, Jürgen; Galic, Milos; Matis, Maja (2018): Polarized microtubule dynamics directs cell mechanics and coordinates forces during epithelial morphogenesis. In: Nature Cell Biology, Vol. 20, No. 10: pp. 1126-1133
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Abstract

Coordinated rearrangements of cytoskeletal structures are the principal source of forces that govern cell and tissue morphogenesis(1,2). However, unlike for actin-based mechanical forces, our knowledge about the contribution of forces originating from other cytoskeletal components remains scarce. Here, we establish microtubules as central components of cell mechanics during tissue morphogenesis. We find that individual cells are mechanically autonomous during early Drosophila wing epithelium development. Each cell contains a polarized apical non-centrosomal microtubule cytoskeleton that bears compressive forces, whereby acute elimination of microtubule-based forces leads to cell shortening. We further establish that the Fat planar cell polarity (Ft-PCP) signalling pathway(3,4) couples microtubules at adherens junctions (AJs) and patterns microtubule-based forces across a tissue via polarized transcellular stability, thus revealing a molecular mechanism bridging single cell and tissue mechanics. Together, these results provide a physical basis to explain how global patterning of microtubules controls cell mechanics to coordinate collective cell behaviour during tissue remodelling. These results also offer alternative paradigms towards the interplay of contractile and protrusive cytoskeletal forces at the single cell and tissue levels.