1. Cell Biology
  2. Developmental Biology
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Local mechanical forces promote polarized junctional assembly and axis elongation in Drosophila

  1. Jessica C Yu
  2. Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Toronto, Canada
Research Article
  • Cited 46
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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e10757 doi: 10.7554/eLife.10757


Axis elongation is a conserved process in which the head-to-tail or anterior-posterior (AP) axis of an embryo extends. In Drosophila, cellular rearrangements drive axis elongation. Cells exchange neighbours by converging into transient multicellular vertices which resolve through the assembly of new cell interfaces parallel to the AP axis. We found that new interfaces elongate in pulses correlated with periodic contractions of the surrounding cells. Inhibiting actomyosin contractility globally, or specifically in the cells around multicellular vertices, disrupted the rate and directionality of new interface assembly. Laser ablation indicated that new interfaces sustained greater tension than non-elongating ones. We developed a method to apply ectopic tension and found that increasing AP tension locally increased the elongation rate of new edges by 2.1-fold. Increasing dorsal-ventral tension resulted in vertex resolution perpendicular to the AP direction. We propose that local, periodic contractile forces polarize vertex resolution to drive Drosophila axis elongation.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jessica C Yu

    Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez

    Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. John B Wallingford, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas at Austin, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: August 10, 2015
  2. Accepted: January 8, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 9, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: February 25, 2016 (version 2)


© 2016, Yu & Fernandez-Gonzalez

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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