Controlling contractile instabilities in the actomyosin cortex
30 November 2016
(to be rescheduled asap)
Via Celoria 26 —Milano
Technische Universität Dresden
The actomyosin cell cortex is an active contractile material for driving cell- and tissue morphogenesis. The cortex has a tendency to form a pattern of myosin foci, which is a signature of potentially unstable behavior. How a system that is prone to such instabilities can reliably drive morphogenesis remains an outstanding question. Here we report that in the Caenorhabditis elegans zygote, feedback between active RhoA and myosin induces a contractile instability in the cortex. We discover that an independent RhoA pacemaking oscillator controls this instability, generating a pulsatory pattern of myosin foci and preventing the collapse of cortical material into a few dynamic contracting regions. Our work reveals how contractile instabilities that are natural to occur in mechanically active media can be biochemically controlled in order to robustly drive morphogenetic events.