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Dev Biol. 2008 Sep 1;321(1):88-100. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Jun 13.

Rho GTPase controls invagination and cohesive migration of the Drosophila salivary gland through Crumbs and Rho-kinase.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 1300 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Coordinated cell movements shape simple epithelia into functional tissues and organs during embryogenesis. Regulators and effectors of the small GTPase Rho have been shown to be essential for epithelial morphogenesis in cell culture; however, the mechanism by which Rho GTPase and its downstream effectors control coordinated movement of epithelia in a developing tissue or organ is largely unknown. Here, we show that Rho1 GTPase activity is required for the invagination of Drosophila embryonic salivary gland epithelia and for directed migration of the internalized gland. We demonstrate that the absence of zygotic function of Rho1 results in the selective loss of the apical proteins, Crumbs (Crb), Drosophila atypical PKC and Stardust during gland invagination and that this is partially due to reduced crb RNA levels and apical localization. In parallel to regulation of crb RNA and protein, Rho1 activity also signals through Rho-kinase (Rok) to induce apical constriction and cell shape change during invagination. After invagination, Rho-Rok signaling is required again for the coordinated contraction and dorsal migration of the proximal half of the gland. We also show that Rho1 activity is required for proper development of the circular visceral mesoderm upon which the gland migrates. Our genetic and live-imaging analyses provide novel evidence that the proximal gland cells play an essential and active role in salivary gland migration that propels the entire gland to turn and migrate posteriorly.

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