Research ArticleDevelopmental Biology

T-plastin is essential for basement membrane assembly and epidermal morphogenesis

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Science Signaling  30 May 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 481, eaal3154
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aal3154

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T-plastin required for basement membrane assembly

The basement membrane is a specialized type of extracellular matrix that separates an epithelium from the underlying connective tissue. Dor-On et al. investigated the role of the actomyosin cytoskeleton in basement membrane development. They found that the basement membrane was irregular and discontinuous in the skin of mouse embryos in which the actin-bundling protein T-plastin had been depleted in the epidermis. T-plastin localized to the actomyosin-rich cortex of epidermal cells and promoted the proper localization and activation of myosin IIA, a motor protein that was required for normal basement membrane organization. Thus, T-plastin and the actomyosin cytoskeleton contribute to the proper development of the basement membrane.


The establishment of epithelial architecture is a complex process involving cross-talk between cells and the basement membrane. Basement membrane assembly requires integrin activity but the role of the associated actomyosin cytoskeleton is poorly understood. Here, we identify the actin-bundling protein T-plastin (Pls3) as a regulator of basement membrane assembly and epidermal morphogenesis. In utero depletion of Pls3 transcripts in mouse embryos caused basement membrane and polarity defects in the epidermis but had little effect on cell adhesion and differentiation. Loss-of-function experiments demonstrated that the apicobasal polarity defects were secondary to the disruption of the basement membrane. However, the basement membrane itself was profoundly sensitive to subtle perturbations in the actin cytoskeleton. We further show that Pls3 localized to the cell cortex, where it was essential for the localization and activation of myosin II. Inhibition of myosin II motor activity disrupted basement membrane organization. Our results provide insights into the regulation of cortical actomyosin and its importance for basement membrane assembly and skin morphogenesis.

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