The C. elegans excretory cell (EC) is a powerful model for tubulogenesis, a conserved process that requires precise cytoskeletal regulation. EXC-6, an ortholog of the disease-associated formin INF2, coordinates cell outgrowth and lumen formation during EC tubulogenesis by regulating F-actin at the tip of the growing canal and the dynamics of basolateral microtubules. EXC-6 functions in parallel to EXC-5/FGD, a predicted activator of the Rho GTPase Cdc42. Here we identify the parallel pathway: EXC-5 functions through CDC-42 to regulate two other formins: INFT-2, another INF2 ortholog, and CYK-1, the sole ortholog of mammalian Diaphanous (mDia). We show that INFT-2 promotes F-actin accumulation in the EC, and that CYK-1 inhibits INFT-2 to regulate F-actin levels and EXC-6-promoted outgrowth. As INF2 and mDia physically interact and cross-regulate in cultured cells, our work indicates that a conserved exc-5/FGD-Cdc42 pathway modulates this regulatory interaction and that it is functionally important in vivo during tubulogenesis.
- Received July 6, 2016.
- Accepted September 20, 2016.