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Development October 1, 2005; 132 (20): 4599-610.

A microtubule-binding Rho-GEF controls cell morphology during convergent extension of Xenopus laevis.

Kwan KM , Kirschner MW .

During Xenopus development, convergent extension movements mediated by cell intercalation drive axial elongation. While many genes required for convergent extension have been identified, little is known of regulation of the cytoskeleton during these cell movements. Although microtubules are required for convergent extension, this applies only to initial stages of gastrulation, between stages 10 and 10.5. To examine the cytoskeleton more directly during convergent extension, we visualized actin and microtubules simultaneously in live explants using spinning disk confocal fluorescence microscopy. Microtubule depolymerization by nocodazole inhibits lamellipodial protrusions and cell-cell contact, thereby inhibiting convergent extension. However, neither taxol nor vinblastine, both of which block microtubule dynamics while stabilizing a polymer form of tubulin, inhibits lamellipodia or convergent extension. This suggests an unusual explanation: the mass of polymerized tubulin, not dynamics of the microtubule cytoskeleton, is crucial for convergent extension. Because microtubule depolymerization elicits striking effects on actin-based protrusions, the role of Rho-family GTPases was tested. The effects of nocodazole are partially rescued using dominant negative Rho, Rho-kinase inhibitor, or constitutively active Rac, suggesting that microtubules regulate small GTPases, possibly via a guanine-nucleotide exchange factor. We cloned full-length XLfc, a microtubule-binding Rho-GEF. Nucleotide exchange activity of XLfc is required for nocodazole-mediated inhibition of convergent extension; constitutively active XLfc recapitulates the effects of microtubule depolymerization. Morpholino knockdown of XLfc abrogates the ability of nocodazole to inhibit convergent extension. Therefore, we believe that XLfc is a crucial regulator of cell morphology during convergent extension, and microtubules limit its activity through binding to the lattice.

PubMed ID: 16176947
PMC ID: PMC1783841
Article link: Development
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: actl6a akt1 arhgef19 arhgef2 rac1 rho rho.2
Morpholinos: arhgef2 MO1

References [+] :
Bulinski, Stabilization of post-translational modification of microtubules during cellular morphogenesis. 1991, Pubmed