Main Menu (Mobile)- Block
Main Menu - Block
Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
C. elegans embryonic elongation is a morphogenetic event driven by actomyosin contractility and muscle-induced tension transmitted through hemidesmosomes. A role for the microtubule cytoskeleton has also been proposed, but its contribution remains poorly characterized. Here, we investigate the organization of the non-centrosomal microtubule arrays present in the epidermis and assess their function in elongation. We show that the microtubule regulators γ-tubulin and NOCA-1 are recruited to hemidesmosomes and adherens junctions early in elongation. Several parallel approaches suggest that microtubule nucleation occurs from these sites. Disrupting the epidermal microtubule array by overexpressing the microtubule-severing protein Spastin or by inhibiting the C. elegans ninein homolog NOCA-1 in the epidermis mildly affected elongation. However, microtubules were essential for elongation when hemidesmosomes or the activity of the Rho kinase LET-502/ROCK were partially compromised. Imaging of junctional components and genetic analyses suggest that epidermal microtubules function together with Rho kinase to promote the transport of E-cadherin to adherens junctions and myotactin to hemidesmosomes. Our results indicate that the role of LET-502 in junctional remodeling is likely to be independent of its established function as a myosin II activator, but requires a microtubule-dependent pathway involving the syntaxin SYX-5. Hence, we propose that non-centrosomal microtubules organized by epidermal junctions contribute to elongation by transporting junction remodeling factors, rather than having a mechanical role.