Junctional tension can arise from cell-intrinsic application of contractility or from the cell-extrinsic forces of tissue movement. Here we report a mechanosensitive
signalling pathway that activates RhoA at adherens junctions to preserve epithelial integrity in response to acute tensile stress. We identify Myosin VI as the forcesensor, whose association with E-cadherin is enhanced when junctional tension is increased by mechanical monolayer stress. Myosin VI promotes recruitment of the heterotrimeric protein Gα12 to E-cadherin, where it signals for p114 RhoGEF to activate RhoA. Despite its potential to stimulate junctional actomyosin and further increase contractility, tension-activated RhoA signalling was necessary to preserve epithelial integrity. This is explained by an increase in tensile strength, especially at the multicellular vertices of junctions, that is due to mDia1-mediated actin assembly.
- Myosin VI