ABSTRACT

The dynamic control of the actin cytoskeleton is a key aspect of essentially all animal cell movements. Experiments in single migrating cells and in vitro systems have provided an exceptionally deep understanding of actin dynamics. However, we still know relatively little of how these systems are tuned in cell-type-specific ways, for example in the context of collective cell movements that sculpt the early embryo. Here, we provide an analysis of the actin-severing and depolymerization machinery during vertebrate gastrulation, with a focus on Twinfilin1 (Twf1) in Xenopus. We find that Twf1 is essential for convergent extension, and loss of Twf1 results in a disruption of lamellipodial dynamics and polarity. Moreover, Twf1 loss results in a failure to assemble polarized cytoplasmic actin cables, which are essential for convergent extension. These data provide an in vivo complement to our more-extensive understanding of Twf1 action in vitro and provide new links between the core machinery of actin regulation and the specialized cell behaviors of embryonic morphogenesis.

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