Apical constriction (AC) is a widely utilized mechanism of cell shape change whereby epithelial cells transform from a cylindrical to conical shape, which can facilitate morphogenetic movements during embryonic development. Invertebrate epithelial cells undergoing AC depend on the contraction of apical cortex-spanning actomyosin filaments that generate force on the apical junctions and pull them toward the middle of the cell, effectively reducing the apical circumference. A current challenge is to determine whether these mechanisms are conserved in vertebrates and to identify the molecules responsible for linking apical junctions with the AC machinery. Utilizing the developing mouse eye as a model, we have uncovered evidence that lens placode AC may be partially dependent on apically positioned myosin-containing filaments associated with the zonula adherens. In addition we found that, among several junctional components, p120-catenin genetically interacts with Shroom3, a protein required for AC during embryonic morphogenesis. Further analysis revealed that, similar to Shroom3, p120-catenin is required for AC of lens cells. Finally, we determined that p120-catenin functions by recruiting Shroom3 to adherens junctions. Together, these data identify a novel role for p120-catenin during AC and further define the mechanisms required for vertebrate AC.
© 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.