Journal of cell science

Extreme nuclear branching in healthy epidermal cells of the Xenopus tail fin.

PMID 30131443


Changes in nuclear morphology contribute to the regulation of complex cell properties, including differentiation and tissue elasticity. Perturbations of nuclear morphology are associated with pathologies that include progeria, cancer and muscular dystrophy. The mechanisms governing nuclear shape changes in healthy cells remain poorly understood, partially because there are few models of nuclear shape variation in healthy cells. Here, we introduce nuclear branching in epidermal fin cells of Xenopus tropicalis as a model for extreme variation of nuclear morphology in a diverse population of healthy cells. We found that nuclear branching arises within these cells and becomes more elaborate during embryonic development. These cells contain broadly distributed marks of transcriptionally active chromatin and heterochromatin, and have active cell cycles. We found that nuclear branches are disrupted by loss of filamentous actin and depend on epidermal expression of the nuclear lamina protein Lamin B1. Inhibition of nuclear branching disrupts fin morphology, suggesting that nuclear branching may be involved in fin development. This study introduces the nuclei of the Xenopus fin as a powerful new model for extreme nuclear morphology in healthy cells to complement studies of nuclear shape variation in pathological contexts.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

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Latrunculin B from Latruncula magnifica, ≥80% (HPLC), solid