Nat Commun. 2022 Oct 28;13(1):6423. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34165-0
During embryonic development, regeneration, and homeostasis, cells have to migrate and physically integrate into the target tissues where they ultimately execute their function. While much is known about the biochemical pathways driving cell migration in vivo, we are only beginning to understand the mechanical interplay between migrating cells and their surrounding tissue. Here, we reveal that multiciliated cell precursors in the Xenopus embryo use filopodia to pull at the vertices of the overlying epithelial sheet. This pulling is effectively used to sense vertex stiffness and identify the preferred positions for cell integration into the tissue. Notably, we find that pulling forces equip multiciliated cells with the ability to remodel the epithelial junctions of the neighboring cells, enabling them to generate a permissive environment that facilitates integration. Our findings reveal the intricate physical crosstalk at the cell-tissue interface and uncover previously unknown functions for mechanical forces in orchestrating cell integration.
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