The establishment of cell polarity is crucial for embryonic cells to acquire their proper morphologies and functions, because cell alignment and intracellular events are coordinated in tissues during embryogenesis according to the cell polarity. Although much is known about the molecules involved in cell polarization, the direct trigger of the process remains largely obscure. We previously demonstrated that the tissue boundary between the chordamesoderm and lateral mesoderm of Xenopus laevis is important for chordamesodermal cell polarity. Here, we examined the intracellular calcium dynamics during boundary formation between two different tissues. In a combination culture of nodal-induced chordamesodermal explants and a heterogeneous tissue, such as ectoderm or lateral mesoderm, the chordamesodermal cells near the boundary frequently displayed intracellular calcium elevation; this frequency was significantly less when homogeneous explants were used. Inhibition of the intracellular calcium elevation blocked cell polarization in the chordamesodermal explants. We also observed frequent calcium waves near the boundary of the dorsal marginal zone (DMZ) dissected from an early gastrula-stage embryo. Optical sectioning revealed that where heterogeneous explants touched, the chordamesodermal surface formed a wedge with the narrow end tucked under the heterogeneous explant. No such configuration was seen between homogeneous explants. When physical force was exerted against a chordamesodermal explant with a glass needle at an angle similar to that created in the explant, or migrating chordamesodermal cells crawled beneath a silicone block, intracellular calcium elevation was frequent and cell polarization was induced. Finally, we demonstrated that a purinergic receptor, which is implicated in mechano-sensing, is required for such frequent calcium elevation in chordamesoderm and for cell polarization. This study raises the possibility that tissue-tissue interaction generates mechanical forces through cell-cell contact that initiates coordinated cell polarization through a transient increase in intracellular calcium.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)