Tissue tension and not interphase cell shape determines cell division orientation in the Drosophila follicular epithelium

EMBO J. 2019 Feb 1;38(3):e100072. doi: 10.15252/embj.2018100072. Epub 2018 Nov 26.


We investigated the cell behaviors that drive morphogenesis of the Drosophila follicular epithelium during expansion and elongation of early-stage egg chambers. We found that cell division is not required for elongation of the early follicular epithelium, but drives the tissue toward optimal geometric packing. We examined the orientation of cell divisions with respect to the planar tissue axis and found a bias toward the primary direction of tissue expansion. However, interphase cell shapes demonstrate the opposite bias. Hertwig's rule, which holds that cell elongation determines division orientation, is therefore broken in this tissue. This observation cannot be explained by the anisotropic activity of the conserved Pins/Mud spindle-orienting machinery, which controls division orientation in the apical-basal axis and planar division orientation in other epithelial tissues. Rather, cortical tension at the apical surface translates into planar division orientation in a manner dependent on Canoe/Afadin, which links actomyosin to adherens junctions. These findings demonstrate that division orientation in different axes-apical-basal and planar-is controlled by distinct, independent mechanisms in a proliferating epithelium.

Keywords: cell division; epithelia; morphogenesis; spindle orientation; tissue biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Shape*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Epithelium / growth & development*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Interphase*
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology*
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology
  • Spindle Apparatus


  • Drosophila Proteins