PloS one

Syntaxin 16 regulates lumen formation during epithelial morphogenesis.

PMID 23626741


The formation and maintenance of cell-cell junctions, both under physiological and pathological conditions, requires the targeting and trafficking of junctional proteins. Proteins of the syntaxin (Stx)-family localize to a variety of subcellular membranes and contribute to intracellular transport of cargo by regulating vesicle fusion events at these sites. Unlike plasma membrane localized Stxs, the roles of endosome- and Golgi-localized stx proteins in epithelial morphogenesis are less understood. Here we show that Stx16- an endosome- and Golgi-localized target-membrane soluble N-ethylmaleimide attachment protein receptor (t-SNARE) that plays a role in membrane trafficking between these compartments - is essential for lumen development. In cultured Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells, Stx16 was selectively upregulated as sparsely plated cells attained confluency. Stx16-depleted confluent monolayers consistently showed lower transepithelial resistance than control monolayers, and failed to maintain endogenous and ectopically expressed E-cadherin at the adherens junctions due to decreased recycling. We further found that whereas cysts formed by MDCK cells cultured in Matrigel have a single hollow lumen, those formed by stx16-depleted counterparts had multiple lumens, due to abnormal orientiation of the mitotic spindle. Finally, a similar role for stx16 function in vivo is indicated by our analysis of pronephric-duct development in zebrafish expressing the claudinB:lynGFP transgene; lack of stx16 function in this structure (in stx16-morphant embryos) led to the development of enlarged, torturous pronephric ducts with more than one lumen. Taken together, our in vitro and in vivo studies establish a role for Stx16 in maintaining the integrity of cell-cell junctions, and thereby in morphogenesis of the kidney epithelial lumen.