Published on Mon Jun 21 2021

Convergent extension requires adhesion-dependent biomechanical integration of cell crawling and junction contraction

Weng, S., Huebner, R., Wallingford, J. B.

Convergent extension is an evolutionarily conserved collective cell movement that elongates the body axis of all animals. Decades of study have revealed two distinct mechanisms of cell movement during CE, one based on cell crawling and the other on junction contraction.

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Abstract

Convergent extension is an evolutionarily conserved collective cell movement that elongates the body axis of all animals and is required for the morphogenesis of several organ systems. Decades of study have revealed two distinct mechanisms of cell movement during CE, one based on cell crawling and the other on junction contraction. How these two behaviors collaborate during CE is not understood. Here, using quantitative live cell imaging we show that these two modes act both independently and in concert during CE, but that cell movement is more effective when the two modes are integrated via mechano-reciprocity. Based on these findings, we developed a novel computational model that for the first time treats crawling and contraction independently. This model not only confirmed the biomechanical efficacy of integrating the two modes, but also revealed for the first time how the two modes -and their integration- are influenced by cell adhesion. Finally, we use these new insights to further understand the complex CE phenotype resulting from loss of the C-cadherin interacting catenin Arvcf. These data are significant for providing new biomechanical and cell biological insights into a fundamental morphogenetic process that is implicated in human neural tube defects and skeletal dysplasias.