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Role of acto-myosin based force production in cell invasion during development in Caenorhabditis elegans

Abstract : Basement membrane (BM) is a dense sheet of specialized extracellular matrix that separates epithelia from underlying tissue. The penetration of cells through BM barriers, called “invasion”, is an important process during normal tissue development and in cancer metastasis. Much has been understood concerning the genetics and signaling of how holes are formed in the BM during invasion. However less is clear about the physical forces involved: how myosin contractility participates in BM removal and how different actin polymerization factors and crosslinkers contribute to the invasive process. To address these questions, we studied an invasion event in a developmental process, anchor cell (AC) invasion in Caenorhabditis elegans. AC breaching of the BM is known to depend on an actin-rich protrusion and the activity of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs), similar to cancer cell invasion. RNAi knockdown of different actin polymerization activators and nucleators, and expression of a dominant negative form of an Arp2/3 complex activator specifically in the AC showed that AC invasion depended strongly on branched filaments formed via WASP/WSP-1 activation of the Arp2/3 complex. Super-resolution microscopy indicated that the AC invasive protrusion was densely packed with filaments, in keeping with the idea that the invasive protrusion was highly branched. We further showed that another Arp2/3 complex activator, WAVE/WVE-1, could enable invasion when WASP/WSP-1 was absent. Formins appeared not to play a major role and actin cross-linking proteins were likewise dispensable for AC invasion. In wild type worms, we observed that myosin activity was not needed for invasion. However it has been reported that cancer cells upregulate myosin contractility to invade in the absence of proteases, so we used a worm deleted for the five main MMPs of the worm genome to test the role of myosin in this context. AC invasion took place in MMP- worms, but with a time delay. RNAi knockdown of different components of the myosin machinery gave no enhancement of the invasion defect. In addition visualization of the actin cytoskeleton in MMP- worms revealed that actin was concentrated in the AC protrusion and barely detectable in the cortex, making it unlikely that myosin contraction of the cortex was helping the cell squeeze through the BM as reported in cancer cells in the absence of proteases. All together these results showed that the invasive cell adapted its branched actin filament polymerization to maintain invasion in different biochemical and environmental contexts. This plasticity is a crucial point that needs to be better understood in order to develop future treatments targeting cancer cell invasion.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 12:58:07 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-02117474, version 1


Rodrigo Cáceres. Role of acto-myosin based force production in cell invasion during development in Caenorhabditis elegans. Cancer. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017USPCB027⟩. ⟨tel-02117474⟩



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