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Dev Cell. 2004 Jun;6(6):865-73.

Lumen morphogenesis in C. elegans requires the membrane-cytoskeleton linker erm-1.

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  • 1Laboratory of Developmental Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA. gobel@helix.mgh.harvard.edu


Epithelial tubes are basic building blocks of complex organs, but their architectural requirements are not well understood. Here we show that erm-1 is a unique C. elegans ortholog of the ERM family of cytoskeleton-membrane linkers, with an essential role in lumen morphogenesis. ERM-1 localizes to the luminal membranes of those tubular organ epithelia which lack stabilization by cuticle. RNA interference (RNAi), a germline deletion, and overexpression of erm-1 cause cystic luminal phenotypes in these epithelia. Confocal and ultrastructural analyses indicate that erm-1 functions directly in apical membrane morphogenesis, rather than in epithelial polarity and junction assembly as has been previously proposed for ERMs. We also show that act-5/cytoplasmic actin and sma-1/beta-H-spectrin are required for lumen formation and functionally interact with erm-1. Our findings suggest that there are common structural constraints on the architecture of diverse organ lumina.

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