Syncytial germline architecture is actively maintained by contraction of an internal actomyosin corset

Agarwal Priti, Hui Ting Ong, Yusuke Toyama, Anup Padmanabhan, Sabyasachi Dasgupta, Matej Krajnc, Ronen Zaidel-Bar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Syncytial architecture is an evolutionarily-conserved feature of the germline of many species and plays a crucial role in their fertility. However, the mechanism supporting syncytial organization is largely unknown. Here, we identify a corset-like actomyosin structure within the syncytial germline of Caenorhabditis elegans, surrounding the common rachis. Using laser microsurgery, we demonstrate that actomyosin contractility within this structure generates tension both in the plane of the rachis surface and perpendicular to it, opposing membrane tension. Genetic and pharmacological perturbations, as well as mathematical modeling, reveal a balance of forces within the gonad and show how changing the tension within the actomyosin corset impinges on syncytial germline structure, leading, in extreme cases, to sterility. Thus, our work highlights a unique tissue-level cytoskeletal structure, and explains the critical role of actomyosin contractility in the preservation of a functional germline.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4694
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of Health
NIH Office of the DirectorP40OD010440
Ministry of Education - SingaporeMOE2015-T2-1-116, MOE2015-T2-1-045


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