Cellularization in Drosophila melanogaster is disrupted by the inhibition of rho activity and the activation of Cdc42 function.

Journal Article (Academic article)

Regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics is essential for cell shape change and morphogenesis. Drosophila melanogaster embryos offer a well-defined system for observing alterations in the cytoskeleton during the process of cellularization, a specialized form of cytokinesis. During cellularization, the actomyosin cytoskeleton forms a hexagonal array and drives invagination of the plasma membrane between the nuclei located at the cortex of the syncytial blastoderm. Rho, Rac, and Cdc42 proteins are members of the Rho subfamily of Ras-related G proteins that are involved in the formation and maintenance of the actin cytoskeleton throughout phylogeny and in D. melanogaster. To investigate how Rho subfamily activity affects the cytoskeleton during cellularization stages, embryos were microinjected with C3 exoenzyme from Clostridium botulinum or with wild-type, constitutively active, or dominant negative versions of Rho, Rac, and Cdc42 proteins. C3 exoenzyme ADP-ribosylates and inactivates Rho with high specificity, whereas constitutively active dominant mutations remain in the activated GTP-bound state to activate downstream effectors. Dominant negative mutations likely inhibit endogenous small G protein activity by sequestering exchange factors. Of the 10 agents microinjected, C3 exoenzyme, constitutively active Cdc42, and dominant negative Rho have a specific and indistinguishable effect: the actomyosin cytoskeleton is disrupted, cellularization halts, and embryogenesis arrests. Time-lapse video records of DIC imaged embryos show that nuclei in injected regions move away from the cortex of the embryo, thereby phenocopying injections of cytochalasin or antimyosin. Rhodamine phalloidin staining reveals that the actin-based hexagonal array normally seen during cellularization is disrupted in a dose-dependent fashion. Additionally, DNA stain reveals that nuclei in the microinjected embryos aggregate in regions that correspond to actin disruption. These embryos halt in cellularization and do not proceed to gastrulation. We conclude that Rho activity and Cdc42 regulation are required for cytoskeletal function in actomyosin-driven furrow canal formation and nuclear positioning.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Crawford, JM; Harden, N; Leung, T; Lim, L; Kiehart, DP

Published Date

  • December 1998

Published In

  • Developmental Biology, Usa

Volume / Issue

  • 204 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 151 - 164

PubMed ID

  • 9851849