Just like Willy Wonka’s trained squirrels getting rid of the bad nuts, an epithelial sheet is able to push out a dying or unwanted cell, all while maintaining an intact barrier. Today’s image is from a paper describing how the direction of cell extrusion is regulated, and is from the same lab that provided a cell extrusion image featured earlier this year (check it out here).
When a cell is extruded from an epithelial sheet, it can be pushed either apically, into the lumen of the organ, or basally, further into the underlying tissue surrounding the organ. This direction is important—although most extruded cells are eliminated on the apical side, living cells that are extruded basally may affect development or become an invading cancerous cell. A recent paper describes results showing that the tumor suppressor protein APC can target microtubules to the cell base in order to drive apical extrusion. In addition, this function of APC is required in the cell that is being extruded, in turn controlling the direction of the actin contractions that squeeze the cell out of the epithelial sheet. Cells either without APC or with a mutated form of APC extruded on the basal side. In the images above, microtubules (green) in wild-type epithelial cells (left) are highly organized and oriented towards the cell being extruded (asterisk). In APC mutant epithelial cells (right), microtubules are reduced and disorganized around the extruding cell.
Marshall, T., Lloyd, I., Delalande, J., Nathke, I., & Rosenblatt, J. (2011). The tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli controls the direction in which a cell extrudes from an epithelium Molecular Biology of the Cell, 22 (21), 3962-3970 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E11-05-0469