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Dev Biol. 2013 Nov 1;383(1):61-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.08.024. Epub 2013 Sep 7.

Caenorhabditis elegans anillin (ani-1) regulates neuroblast cytokinesis and epidermal morphogenesis during embryonic development.

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Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, Canada H4B 1R6. Electronic address:


The formation of tissues is essential for metazoan development. During Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis, ventral epidermal cells migrate to encase the ventral surface of the embryo in a layer of epidermis by a process known as ventral enclosure. This process is regulated by guidance cues secreted by the underlying neuroblasts. However, since the cues and their receptors are differentially expressed in multiple cell types, the role of the neuroblasts in ventral enclosure is not fully understood. Furthermore, although F-actin is required for epidermal cell migration, it is not known if nonmuscle myosin is also required. Anillin (ANI-1) is an actin and myosin-binding protein that coordinates actin-myosin contractility in the early embryo. Here, we show that ANI-1 localizes to the cleavage furrows of dividing neuroblasts during mid-embryogenesis and is required for their division. Embryos depleted of ani-1 display a range of ventral enclosure phenotypes, where ventral epidermal cells migrate with similar speeds to control embryos, but contralateral neighbors often fail to meet and are misaligned. The ventral enclosure phenotypes in ani-1 RNAi embryos suggest that the position or shape of neuroblasts is important for directing ventral epidermal cell migration, although does not rule out an autonomous requirement for ani-1 in the epidermal cells. Furthermore, we show that rho-1 and other regulators of nonmuscle myosin activity are required for ventral epidermal cell migration. Interestingly, altering nonmuscle myosin contractility alleviates or strengthens ani-1's ventral enclosure phenotypes. Our findings suggest that ventral enclosure is a complex process that likely relies on inputs from multiple tissues.


Anillin; C. elegans embryogenesis; Epidermal morphogenesis; Myosin; Neuroblasts; RhoA

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