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Transporting epithelial cells interact with the luminal environment using a tightly packed array of microvilli known as the brush border. During intestinal epithelial differentiation, microvillar packing and organization are driven by cadherin-dependent adhesion complexes that localize to the distal tips of microvilli, where they drive physical interactions between neighboring protrusions. Although enrichment of the "intermicrovillar adhesion complex" (IMAC) at distal tips is required for proper function, the mechanism driving tip accumulation of these factors remains unclear. Here, we report that the actin-based motor myosin-7b (Myo7b) promotes the accumulation of IMAC components at microvillar tips. Myo7b is highly enriched at the tips of microvilli in both kidney and intestinal brush borders, and loss of Myo7b in differentiating intestinal epithelial cells disrupts intermicrovillar adhesion and, thus, brush border assembly. Analysis of cells lacking Myo7b revealed that IMAC components and the resulting intermicrovillar adhesion links are mislocalized along the microvillar axis rather than enriched at the distal tips. We also found that Myo7b motor domains are capable of supporting tip-directed transport. However, motor activity is supplemented by other passive targeting mechanisms that together drive highly efficient IMAC accumulation at the tips. These findings illuminate the molecular basis of IMAC enrichment at microvillar tips and hold important implications for understanding apical morphogenesis in transporting and sensory epithelial tissues.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.