Signalling crosstalk at the leading edge controls tissue closure dynamics in the Drosophila embryo

Abstract : Tissue morphogenesis relies on proper differentiation of morphogenetic domains, adopting specific cell behaviours. Yet, how signalling pathways interact to determine and coordinate these domains remains poorly understood. Dorsal closure (DC) of the Drosophila embryo represents a powerful model to study epithelial cell sheet sealing. In this process, JNK (JUN N-terminal Kinase) signalling controls leading edge (LE) differentiation generating local forces and cell shape changes essential for DC. The LE represents a key morphogenetic domain in which, in addition to JNK, a number of signalling pathways converges and interacts (anterior/posterior -AP- determination; segmentation genes, such as Wnt/Wingless; TGFβ/Decapentaplegic). To better characterize properties of the LE morphogenetic domain, we sought out new JNK target genes through a genomic approach: 25 were identified of which 8 are specifically expressed in the LE, similarly to decapentaplegic or puckered. Quantitative in situ gene profiling of this new set of LE genes reveals complex patterning of the LE along the AP axis, involving a three-way interplay between the JNK pathway, segmentation and HOX genes. Patterning of the LE into discrete domains appears essential for coordination of tissue sealing dynamics. Loss of anterior or posterior HOX gene function leads to strongly delayed and asymmetric DC, due to incorrect zipping in their respective functional domain. Therefore, in addition to significantly increasing the number of JNK target genes identified so far, our results reveal that the LE is a highly heterogeneous morphogenetic organizer, sculpted through crosstalk between JNK, segmental and AP signalling. This fine-tuning regulatory mechanism is essential to coordinate morphogenesis and dynamics of tissue sealing.
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Raphaël Rousset, Fabrice Carballès, Nadège Parassol, Sébastien Schaub, Delphine Cérézo, et al.. Signalling crosstalk at the leading edge controls tissue closure dynamics in the Drosophila embryo. PLoS Genetics, Public Library of Science, 2017, 13 (2), pp.e1006640. ⟨10.1371/journal.pgen.1006640⟩. ⟨inserm-02159316⟩

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