JOURNAL ARTICLE

Atonal and EGFR signalling orchestrate rok- and Drak-dependent adherens junction remodelling during ommatidia morphogenesis

Francesca Robertson, Noelia Pinal, Pierre Fichelson, Franck Pichaud
Development 2012, 139 (18): 3432-41
22874916
Morphogenesis of epithelial tissues relies on the interplay between cell division, differentiation and regulated changes in cell shape, intercalation and sorting. These processes are often studied individually in relatively simple epithelia that lack the complexity found during organogenesis when these processes might all coexist simultaneously. To address this issue, we are making use of the developing fly retinal neuroepithelium. Retinal morphogenesis relies on a coordinated sequence of interdependent morphogenetic events that includes apical cell constriction, localized alignment of groups of cells and ommatidia morphogenesis coupled to neurogenesis. Here, we use live imaging to document the sequence of adherens junction (AJ) remodelling events required to generate the fly ommatidium. In this context, we demonstrate that the kinases Rok and Drak function redundantly during Myosin II-dependent cell constriction, subsequent multicellular alignment and AJ remodelling. In addition, we show that early multicellular patterning characterized by cell alignment is promoted by the conserved transcription factor Atonal (Ato). Further ommatidium patterning requires the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling pathway, which transcriptionally governs rok- and Drak-dependent AJ remodelling while also promoting neurogenesis. In conclusion, our work reveals an important role for Drak in regulating AJ remodelling during retinal morphogenesis. It also sheds new light on the interplay between Ato, EGFR-dependent transcription and AJ remodelling in a system in which neurogenesis is coupled with cell shape changes and regulated steps of cell intercalation.

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