Apical actomyosin activity in animal epithelial cells influences tissue morphology and drives morphogenetic movements during development. The molecular mechanisms leading to myosin II accumulation at the apical membrane and its exclusion from other membranes are poorly understood. We show that in the nonmetazoan Dictyostelium discoideum, myosin II localizes apically in tip epithelial cells that surround the stalk, and constriction of this epithelial tube is required for proper morphogenesis. IQGAP1 and its binding partner cortexillin I function downstream of α- and β-catenin to exclude myosin II from the basolateral cortex and promote apical accumulation of myosin II. Deletion of IQGAP1 or cortexillin compromises epithelial morphogenesis without affecting cell polarity. These results reveal that apical localization of myosin II is a conserved morphogenetic mechanism from nonmetazoans to vertebrates and identify a hierarchy of proteins that regulate the polarity and organization of an epithelial tube in a simple model organism.
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