Septate-junction-dependent luminal deposition of chitin deacetylases restricts tube elongation in the Drosophila trachea

Curr Biol. 2006 Jan 24;16(2):180-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.11.074.


The function of tubular epithelial organs like the kidney and lung is critically dependent on the length and diameter of their constituting branches. Genetic analysis of tube size control during Drosophila tracheal development has revealed that epithelial septate junction (SJ) components and the dynamic chitinous luminal matrix coordinate tube growth. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms controlling tube expansion so far remained elusive. Here, we present the analysis of two luminal chitin binding proteins with predicted polysaccharide deacetylase activities (ChLDs). ChLDs are required to assemble the cable-like extracellular matrix (ECM) and restrict tracheal tube elongation. Overexpression of native, but not of mutated, ChLD versions also interferes with the structural integrity of the intraluminal ECM and causes aberrant tube elongation. Whereas ChLD mutants have normal SJ structure and function, the luminal deposition of the ChLD requires intact cellular SJs. This identifies a new molecular function for SJs in the apical secretion of ChLD and positions ChLD downstream of the SJs in tube length control. The deposition of the chitin luminal matrix first promotes and coordinates radial tube expansion. We propose that the subsequent structural modification of chitin by chitin binding deacetylases selectively instructs the termination of tube elongation to the underlying epithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism
  • Amidohydrolases / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Shape
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / enzymology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / analysis
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / enzymology
  • Extracellular Matrix / ultrastructure
  • Intercellular Junctions / enzymology*
  • Morphogenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Trachea / cytology
  • Trachea / embryology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Amidohydrolases
  • chitin deacetylase