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Development. 2011 Apr;138(8):1551-62. doi: 10.1242/dev.057653. Epub 2011 Mar 9.

Asymmetric Mbc, active Rac1 and F-actin foci in the fusion-competent myoblasts during myoblast fusion in Drosophila.

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  • 1Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA.


Myoblast fusion is an intricate process that is initiated by cell recognition and adhesion, and culminates in cell membrane breakdown and formation of multinucleate syncytia. In the Drosophila embryo, this process occurs asymmetrically between founder cells that pattern the musculature and fusion-competent myoblasts (FCMs) that account for the bulk of the myoblasts. The present studies clarify and amplify current models of myoblast fusion in several important ways. We demonstrate that the non-conventional guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) Mbc plays a fundamental role in the FCMs, where it functions to activate Rac1, but is not required in the founder cells for fusion. Mbc, active Rac1 and F-actin foci are highly enriched in the FCMs, where they localize to the Sns:Kirre junction. Furthermore, Mbc is crucial for the integrity of the F-actin foci and the FCM cytoskeleton, presumably via its activation of Rac1 in these cells. Finally, the local asymmetric distribution of these proteins at adhesion sites is reminiscent of invasive podosomes and, consistent with this model, they are enriched at sites of membrane deformation, where the FCM protrudes into the founder cell/myotube. These data are consistent with models promoting actin polymerization as the driving force for myoblast fusion.

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