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Dev Cell. 2002 Sep;3(3):367-81.

Actin cable dynamics and Rho/Rock orchestrate a polarized cytoskeletal architecture in the early steps of assembling a stratified epithelium.

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Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


To enable stratification and barrier function, the epidermis must permit self-renewal while maintaining adhesive connections. By generating K14-GFP-actin mice to monitor actin dynamics in cultured primary keratinocytes, we uncovered a role for the actin cytoskeleton in establishing cellular organization. During epidermal sheet formation, a polarized network of nascent intercellular junctions and radial actin cables assemble in the apical plane of the monolayer. These actin fibers anchor to a central actin-myosin network, creating a tension-based plane of cytoskeleton across the apical surface of the sheet. Movement of the sheet surface relative to its base expands the zone of intercellular overlap, catalyzing new sites for nascent intercellular junctions. This polarized cytoskeleton is dependent upon alpha-catenin, Rho, and Rock, and its regulation may be important for wound healing and/or stratification, where coordinated tissue movements are involved.

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