Regulation of cellular adhesion and cytoskeletal dynamics is essential for neurulation, though it remains unclear how these two processes are coordinated. Members of the Ena/VASP family of proteins are localized to sites of cellular adhesion and actin dynamics and lack of two family members, Mena and VASP, in mice results in failure of neural tube closure. The precise mechanism by which Ena/VASP proteins regulate this process, however, is not understood. In this report, we show that Xenopus Ena (Xena) is localized to apical adhesive junctions of neuroepithelial cells during neurulation and that Xena knockdown disrupts cell behaviors integral to neural tube closure. Changes in the shape of the neural plate as well as apical constriction within the neural plate are perturbed in Xena knockdown embryos. Additionally, we demonstrate that Xena is essential for cell-cell adhesion. These results demonstrate that Xena plays an integral role in coordinating the regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics and cellular adhesion during neurulation in Xenopus.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge Drs. Randall Moon (University of Washington), John Wallingford (University of Texas), and Frank Gertler (MIT) for generously providing reagents used in this work. We also thank members of the Miller lab and Drs. Lorene Lanier, Duncan Clarke, and Laura Gammill (University of Minnesota) for numerous discussions and insightful comments. This work was supported by NIH Pre-Doctoral Training Grant HD07480 and March of Dimes research grant 6-FY04-66.
- Actin dynamics
- Apical wedging