Meisosomes, folded membrane microdomains between the apical extracellular matrix and epidermis

Elife. 2023 Mar 13;12:e75906. doi: 10.7554/eLife.75906.


Apical extracellular matrices (aECMs) form a physical barrier to the environment. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the epidermal aECM, the cuticle, is composed mainly of different types of collagen, associated in circumferential ridges separated by furrows. Here, we show that in mutants lacking furrows, the normal intimate connection between the epidermis and the cuticle is lost, specifically at the lateral epidermis, where, in contrast to the dorsal and ventral epidermis, there are no hemidesmosomes. At the ultrastructural level, there is a profound alteration of structures that we term 'meisosomes,' in reference to eisosomes in yeast. We show that meisosomes are composed of stacked parallel folds of the epidermal plasma membrane, alternately filled with cuticle. We propose that just as hemidesmosomes connect the dorsal and ventral epidermis, above the muscles, to the cuticle, meisosomes connect the lateral epidermis to it. Moreover, furrow mutants present marked modifications of the biomechanical properties of their skin and exhibit a constitutive damage response in the epidermis. As meisosomes co-localise to macrodomains enriched in phosphatidylinositol (4,5) bisphosphate, they could conceivably act, like eisosomes, as signalling platforms, to relay tensile information from the aECM to the underlying epidermis, as part of an integrated stress response to damage.

Keywords: C. elegans; cell biology; cell–matrix interactions; damage; eisosomes; epidermis; extracellular matrix; host-defense system; signal transduction; skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins* / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins* / metabolism
  • Epidermal Cells / metabolism
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins