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

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Developmental cell, Volume 3, Issue 3, p.367-81 (2002)


Actin Cytoskeleton, Actins, ADHERENS JUNCTIONS, alpha Catenin, Amides, Animals, Animals, Newborn, Cadherins, Calcium, Cell Polarity, Cells, Cultured, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Cytoskeleton, Desmosomes, Enzyme Inhibitors, Epidermis, Epithelial Cells, Green Fluorescent Proteins, Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, KERATINOCYTES, Luminescent Proteins, MICE, Mice, Transgenic, Models, Biological, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, Pyridines, Recombinant Fusion Proteins, rho GTP-Binding Proteins, rho-Associated Kinases, Transgenes


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.