Dynamic features of adherens junctions during Drosophila embryonic epithelial morphogenesis revealed by a Dα-catenin-GFP fusion protein
Cell-cell adherens junctions (AJs), comprised of the cadherin-catenin adhesion system, contribute to cell shape changes and cell movements in epithelial morphogenesis. However, little is known about the dynamic features of AJs in cells of the developing embryo. In this study, we constructed Dα-catenin fused with a green fluorescent protein (Dα-catenin-GFP), and found that it targeted apically located AJ-based contacts but not other lateral contacts in epithelial cells of living Drosophila embryos. Using time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, we examined the dynamic performance of AJs containing Dα-catenin-GFP in epithelial morphogenetic movements. In the ventral ectoderm of stage 11 embryos, concentration and deconcentration of Dα-catenin-GFP occurred concomitantly with changes in length of AJ contacts. In the lateral ectoderm of embryos at the same stage, dynamic behaviour of AJs was concerted with division and delamination of sensory organ precursor (SOP) cells. Moreover, changes in patterns of AJ networks during tracheal extension could be followed. Finally, we utilized Dα-catenin-GFP to precisely observe the defects in tracheal fusion in shotgun mutants. Thus, the Dα-catenin-GFP fusion protein is a helpful tool to simultaneously observe morphogenetic movements and AJ dynamics at high spatio-temporal resolution.
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