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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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Laboratory of Developmental Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


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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