Actomyosin contractility and microtubules drive apical constriction in Xenopus bottle cells

Dev Biol. 2007 Nov 1;311(1):40-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.08.010. Epub 2007 Aug 10.


Cell shape changes are critical for morphogenetic events such as gastrulation, neurulation, and organogenesis. However, the cell biology driving cell shape changes is poorly understood, especially in vertebrates. The beginning of Xenopus laevis gastrulation is marked by the apical constriction of bottle cells in the dorsal marginal zone, which bends the tissue and creates a crevice at the blastopore lip. We found that bottle cells contribute significantly to gastrulation, as their shape change can generate the force required for initial blastopore formation. As actin and myosin are often implicated in contraction, we examined their localization and function in bottle cells. F-actin and activated myosin accumulate apically in bottle cells, and actin and myosin inhibitors either prevent or severely perturb bottle cell formation, showing that actomyosin contractility is required for apical constriction. Microtubules were localized in apicobasally directed arrays in bottle cells, emanating from the apical surface. Surprisingly, apical constriction was inhibited in the presence of nocodazole but not taxol, suggesting that intact, but not dynamic, microtubules are required for apical constriction. Our results indicate that actomyosin contractility is required for bottle cell morphogenesis and further suggest a novel and unpredicted role for microtubules during apical constriction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis
  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Shape*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / chemistry
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Gastrulation
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Morphogenesis
  • Myosins / analysis
  • Myosins / metabolism*
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology*


  • Actins
  • Myosins