During vertebrate gastrulation, convergence and extension movements elongate embryonic tissues anteroposteriorly and narrow them mediolaterally. Planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling is essential for mediolateral cell elongation underlying these movements, but how this polarity arises is poorly understood. We analyzed the elongation, orientation and migration behaviors of lateral mesodermal cells undergoing convergence and extension movements in wild-type zebrafish embryos and mutants for the Wnt/PCP core component Vangl2 (Trilobite).We demonstrate that Vangl2 function is required at the timewhencells transition to a highlyelongated and mediolaterally aligned body. vangl2 mutant cells fail to undergo this transition and to migrate along a straight path with high net speed towards the dorsal midline. Instead, vangl2 mutant cells exhibit an anterior/animal pole bias in cell body alignment and movement direction, suggesting that PCP signaling promotes effective dorsal migration in part by suppressing anterior/ animalward cell polarity and movement. Endogenous Vangl2 protein accumulates at the plasmamembrane of mesenchymal converging cells at the time its function is required for mediolaterally polarized cell behavior. Heterochronic cell transplantations demonstrated that Vangl2 cell membrane accumulation is stage dependent and regulated by both intrinsic factors and an extracellular signal, which is distinct from PCP signaling or other gastrulation regulators, including BMP and Nodals. Moreover, mosaic expression of fusion proteins revealed enrichment of Vangl2 at the anterior cell edges of highly mediolaterally elongated cells. These results demonstrate that the dynamic Vangl2 intracellular distribution is coordinated with and necessary for the changes in convergence and extension cell behaviors during gastrulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2508-2520
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2015


  • Cell movement
  • Cell polarity
  • Gastrulation
  • Vangl2
  • Wnt/PCP
  • Zebrafish


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