skip to main content

Title: Actin bundles play a different role in shaping scales compared to bristles in the mosquito Aedes aegypti
Abstract Insect epithelial cells contain cellular extensions such as bristles, hairs, and scales. These cellular extensions are homologous structures that differ in morphology and function. They contain actin bundles that dictate their cellular morphology. While the organization, function, and identity of the major actin-bundling proteins in bristles and hairs are known, this information on scales is unknown. In this study, we characterized the development of scales and the role of actin bundles in the mosquito, Aedes aegypti . We show that scales undergo drastic morphological changes during development, from a cylindrical to flat shape with longer membrane invagination. Scale actin-bundle distribution changes from the symmetrical organization of actin bundles located throughout the bristle membrane to an asymmetrical organization. By chemically inhibiting actin polymerization and by knocking out the forked gene in the mosquito ( Ae-Forked ; a known actin-bundling protein) by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, we showed that actin bundles are required for shaping bristle, hair, and scale morphology. We demonstrated that actin bundles and Ae-Forked are required for bristle elongation, but not for that of scales. In scales, actin bundles are required for width formation. In summary, our results reveal, for the first time, the developmental process of mosquito scale more » formation and also the role of actin bundles and actin-bundle proteins in scale morphogenesis. Moreover, our results reveal that although scale and bristle are thought to be homologous structures, actin bundles have a differential requirement in shaping mosquito scales compared to bristles. « less
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The mechanical and structural properties of actin cytoskeleton drive various cellular processes, including structural support of the plasma membrane and cellular motility. Actin monomers assemble into double-stranded helical filaments as well as higher-ordered structures such as bundles and networks. Cells incorporate macromolecular crowding, cation interactions, and actin-crosslinking proteins to regulate the organization of actin bundles. Although the roles of each of these factors in actin bundling have been well-known individually, how combined factors contribute to actin bundle assembly, organization, and mechanics is not fully understood. Here, we describe recent studies that have investigated the mechanisms of how intracellular environmental factors influence actin bundling. This review highlights the effects of macromolecular crowding, cation interactions, and actin-crosslinking proteins on actin bundle organization, structure, and mechanics. Understanding these mechanisms is important in determining in vivo actin biophysics and providing insights into cell physiology.
  2. Epithelial cells assemble specialized actomyosin structures at E-Cadherin–based cell–cell junctions, and the force exerted drives cell shape change during morphogenesis. The mechanisms that build this supramolecular actomyosin structure remain unclear. We used ZO-knockdown MDCK cells, which assemble a robust, polarized, and highly organized actomyosin cytoskeleton at the zonula adherens, combining genetic and pharmacologic approaches with superresolution microscopy to define molecular machines required. To our surprise, inhibiting individual actin assembly pathways (Arp2/3, formins, or Ena/VASP) did not prevent or delay assembly of this polarized actomyosin structure. Instead, as junctions matured, micron-scale supramolecular myosin arrays assembled, with aligned stacks of myosin filaments adjacent to the apical membrane, overlying disorganized actin filaments. This suggested that myosin arrays might bundle actin at mature junctions. Consistent with this idea, inhibiting ROCK or myosin ATPase disrupted myosin localization/organization and prevented actin bundling and polarization. We obtained similar results in Caco-2 cells. These results suggest a novel role for myosin self-assembly, helping drive actin organization to facilitate cell shape change.

  3. The structural and mechanical properties of actin bundles are essential to eukaryotic cells, aiding in cell motility and mechanical support of the plasma membrane. Bundle formation occurs in crowded intracellular environments composed of various ions and macromolecules. Although the roles of cations and macromolecular crowding in the mechanics and organization of actin bundles have been independently established, how changing both intracellular environmental conditions influence bundle mechanics at the nanoscale has yet to be established. Here we investigate how electrostatics and depletion interactions modulate the relative Young’s modulus and height of actin bundles using atomic force microscopy. Our results demonstrate that cation- and depletion-induced bundles display an overall reduction of relative Young’s modulus depending on either cation or crowding concentrations. Furthermore, we directly measure changes to cation- and depletion-induced bundle height, indicating that bundles experience alterations to filament packing supporting the reduction to relative Young’s modulus. Taken together, our work suggests that electrostatic and depletion interactions may act counteractively, impacting actin bundle nanomechanics and organization.
  4. Depending on the physical and biochemical properties of actin-binding proteins, actin networks form different types of membrane protrusions at the cell periphery. Actin crosslinkers, which facilitate the interaction of actin filaments with one another, are pivotal in determining the mechanical properties and protrusive behavior of actin networks. Short crosslinkers such as fascin bundle F-actin to form rigid spiky filopodial protrusions. By encapsulation of fascin and actin in giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs), we show that fascin-actin bundles cause various GUV shape changes by forming bundle networks or straight single bundles depending on GUV size and fascin concentration. We also show that the presence of a long crosslinker, α-actinin, impacts fascin-induced GUV shape changes and significantly impairs the formation of filopodia-like protrusions. Actin bundle-induced GUV shape changes are confirmed by light-induced disassembly of actin bundles leading to the reversal of GUV shape. Our study contributes to advancing the design of shape-changing minimal cells for better characterization of the interaction between lipid bilayer membranes and actin cytoskeleton.
  5. Merks, Roeland M.H. (Ed.)
    Cross-linked actin networks are the primary component of the cell cytoskeleton and have been the subject of numerous experimental and modeling studies. While these studies have demonstrated that the networks are viscoelastic materials, evolving from elastic solids on short timescales to viscous fluids on long ones, questions remain about the duration of each asymptotic regime, the role of the surrounding fluid, and the behavior of the networks on intermediate timescales. Here we perform detailed simulations of passively cross-linked non-Brownian actin networks to quantify the principal timescales involved in the elastoviscous behavior, study the role of nonlocal hydrodynamic interactions, and parameterize continuum models from discrete stochastic simulations. To do this, we extend our recent computational framework for semiflexible filament suspensions, which is based on nonlocal slender body theory, to actin networks with dynamic cross linkers and finite filament lifetime. We introduce a model where the cross linkers are elastic springs with sticky ends stochastically binding to and unbinding from the elastic filaments, which randomly turn over at a characteristic rate. We show that, depending on the parameters, the network evolves to a steady state morphology that is either an isotropic actin mesh or a mesh with embedded actin bundles. For differentmore »degrees of bundling, we numerically apply small-amplitude oscillatory shear deformation to extract three timescales from networks of hundreds of filaments and cross linkers. We analyze the dependence of these timescales, which range from the order of hundredths of a second to the actin turnover time of several seconds, on the dynamic nature of the links, solvent viscosity, and filament bending stiffness. We show that the network is mostly elastic on the short time scale, with the elasticity coming mainly from the cross links, and viscous on the long time scale, with the effective viscosity originating primarily from stretching and breaking of the cross links. We show that the influence of nonlocal hydrodynamic interactions depends on the network morphology: for homogeneous meshworks, nonlocal hydrodynamics gives only a small correction to the viscous behavior, but for bundled networks it both hinders the formation of bundles and significantly lowers the resistance to shear once bundles are formed. We use our results to construct three-timescale generalized Maxwell models of the networks.« less