Scribble mutation disrupts convergent extension and apical constriction during mammalian neural tube closure

Morphogenesis of the vertebrate neural tube occurs by elongation and bending of the neural plate, tissue shape changes that are driven at the cellular level by polarized cell intercalation and cell shape changes, notably apical constriction and cell wedging. Coordinated cell intercalation, apical constriction, and wedging undoubtedly require complex underlying cytoskeletal dynamics and remodeling of adhesions. Mutations of the gene encoding Scribble result in neural tube defects in mice, however the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which Scrib regulates neural cell behavior remain unknown. Analysis of Scribble mutants revealed defects in neural tissue shape changes, and live cell imaging of mouse embryos showed that the Scrib mutation results in defects in polarized cell intercalation, particularly in rosette resolution, and failure of both cell apical constriction and cell wedging. Scrib mutant embryos displayed aberrant expression of the junctional proteins ZO-1, Par3, Par6, E- and N-cadherins, and the cytoskeletal proteins actin and myosin. These findings show that Scribble has a central role in organizing the molecular complexes regulating the morphomechanical neural cell behaviors underlying vertebrate neurulation, and they advance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in mammalian neural tube closure.