We previously provided evidence that cadherin-6B induces de-epithelialization of the neural crest prior to delamination and is required for the overall epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). Furthermore, de-epithelialization induced by cadherin-6B was found to be mediated by BMP receptor signaling independent of BMP. We now find that de-epithelialization is mediated by non-canonical BMP signaling through the BMP type II receptor (BMPRII) and not by canonical Smad dependent signaling through BMP Type I receptor. The LIM kinase/cofilin pathway mediates non-canonical BMPRII induced de-epithelialization, in response to either cadherin-6B or BMP. LIMK1 induces de-epithelialization in the neural tube and dominant negative LIMK1 decreases de-epithelialization induced by either cadherin-6B or BMP. Cofilin is the major known LIMK1 target and a S3A phosphorylation deficient mutated cofilin inhibits de-epithelialization induced by cadherin-6B as well as LIMK1. Importantly, LIMK1 as well as cadherin-6B can trigger ectopic delamination when co-expressed with the competence factor SOX9, showing that this cadherin-6B stimulated signaling pathway can mediate the full EMT in the appropriate context. These findings suggest that the de-epithelialization step of the neural crest EMT by cadherin-6B/BMPRII involves regulation of actin dynamics via LIMK/cofilin.
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