ROCK and the actomyosin network control biomineral growth and morphology during sea urchin skeletogenesis

Eman Hijaze, Tsvia Gildor, Ronald Seidel, Majed Layous, Mark Winter, Luca Bertinetti, Yael Politi, Smadar Ben-Tabou De-Leon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Biomineralization had apparently evolved independently in different phyla, using distinct minerals, organic scaffolds, and gene regulatory networks (GRNs). However, diverse eukary-otes from unicellular organisms, through echinoderms to vertebrates, use the actomyosin network during biomineralization. Specifically, the actomyosin remodeling protein, Rho-associated coiled-coil kinase (ROCK) regulates cell differentiation and gene expression in vertebrates’ biomineralizing cells, yet, little is known on ROCK’s role in invertebrates’ biomineralization. Here, we reveal that ROCK controls the formation, growth, and morphology of the calcite spicules in the sea urchin larva. ROCK expression is elevated in the sea urchin skeletogenic cells downstream of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) signaling. ROCK inhibition leads to skeletal loss and disrupts skel-etogenic gene expression. ROCK inhibition after spicule formation reduces the spicule elongation rate and induces ectopic spicule branching. Similar skeletogenic phenotypes are observed when ROCK is inhibited in a skeletogenic cell culture, indicating that these phenotypes are due to ROCK activity specifically in the skeletogenic cells. Reduced skeletal growth and enhanced branching are also observed under direct perturbations of the actomyosin network. We propose that ROCK and the actomyosin machinery were employed independently, downstream of distinct GRNs, to regulate biomineral growth and morphology in Eukaryotes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberRP89080
JournaleLife
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience

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