Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 20;14(1):337. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-35991-6
Apical constriction is a cell shape change critical to vertebrate neural tube closure, and the contractile force required for this process is generated by actin-myosin networks. The signaling cue that instructs this process has remained elusive. Here, we identify Wnt4 and the transmembrane ephrinB2 protein as playing an instructive role in neural tube closure as members of a signaling complex we termed WERDS (Wnt4, EphrinB2, Ror2, Dishevelled (Dsh2), and Shroom3). Disruption of function or interaction among members of the WERDS complex results in defects of apical constriction and neural tube closure. The mechanism of action involves an interaction of ephrinB2 with the Dsh2 scaffold protein that enhances the formation of the WERDS complex, which in turn, activates Rho-associated kinase to induce apical constriction. Moreover, the ephrinB2/Dsh2 interaction promotes non-canonical Wnt signaling and shows how cross-talk between two major signal transduction pathways, Eph/ephrin and Wnt, coordinate morphogenesis of the neural tube.
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