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Lateral Inhibition in Cell Specification Mediated by Mechanical Signals Modulating TAZ Activity

Xia, Peng, Gütl, Daniel, Zheden, Vanessa, Heisenberg, Carl-Philipp
Cell 2019 v.176 no.6 pp. 1379-1392.e14
Danio rerio, animals, granulosa cells, oocytes, oogenesis, signal transduction, transcription (genetics)
Cell fate specification by lateral inhibition typically involves contact signaling through the Delta-Notch signaling pathway. However, whether this is the only signaling mode mediating lateral inhibition remains unclear. Here we show that in zebrafish oogenesis, a group of cells within the granulosa cell layer at the oocyte animal pole acquire elevated levels of the transcriptional coactivator TAZ in their nuclei. One of these cells, the future micropyle precursor cell (MPC), accumulates increasingly high levels of nuclear TAZ and grows faster than its surrounding cells, mechanically compressing those cells, which ultimately lose TAZ from their nuclei. Strikingly, relieving neighbor-cell compression by MPC ablation or aspiration restores nuclear TAZ accumulation in neighboring cells, eventually leading to MPC re-specification from these cells. Conversely, MPC specification is defective in taz−/− follicles. These findings uncover a novel mode of lateral inhibition in cell fate specification based on mechanical signals controlling TAZ activity.