A transgenic toolkit for visualizing and perturbing microtubules reveals unexpected functions in the epidermis.
The physiological functions of microtubules (MTs) are poorly understood in many differentiated cell types. We developed a genetic toolkit to study MT dynamics and function in diverse cells. Using TRE-EB1-GFP mice, we found that MT dynamics are strongly suppressed in differentiated keratinocytes in two distinct steps due to alterations in both growth rate and lifetime. To understand the functions of these MT populations, we developed TRE-spastin mice to disrupt MTs in specific cell types. MT perturbation in post-mitotic keratinocytes had profound consequences on epidermal morphogenesis. We uncoupled cell-autonomous roles in cell flattening from non-cell-autonomous requirements for MTs in regulating proliferation, differentiation, and tissue architecture. This work uncovers physiological roles for MTs in epidermal development, and the tools described here will be broadly useful to study MT dynamics and functions in mammals.
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