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  • Synaptopodin is required for stress fiber and contractomere assembly at the epithelial junction

    Morris, T; Sue, E; Geniesse, C; Brieher, W; Tang, V
    Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    The apical junction of epithelial cells can generate force to control cell geometry and perform contractile processes while maintaining barrier function and cell-cell adhesion. Yet, the structural basis of force generation at the apical junction is not completely understood. Here, we describe 2 actomyosin structures at the apical junction containing synaptopodin, myosin IIB, and alpha-actinin-4. We showed that synaptopodin is required for the assembly of E-cadherin-associated apical stress fibers and a novel macromolecular structure, which we named contractomere. Knockdown of synaptopodin abolished both apical stress fiber and contractomere formation. Moreover, depletion of synaptopodin abolished basal stress fibers, converting myosin IIA sarcomere-like arrangement into a meshwork-type actomyosin organization. We propose a new model of junction dynamics that is dependent on contractomere movement to control epithelial cell boundary and geometry. Our findings reveal 2 actomyosin structures at the epithelial junction and underscore synaptopodin in the assembly of stress fibers and contractomeres.Summary StatementSynaptopodin assembles 2 actomyosin structures at the epithelial junction: apical stress fiber and contractomere. Synaptopodin selectively regulates myosin IIB without altering the level of myosin IIA and is responsible for converting evolutionary-conserved actomyosin meshwork into vertebrate-specific stress fibers.Graphic Abstract
    10.1101/2020.12.30.424702

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