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A rear-engine drives adherent tissue migration in vivo

Yamaguchi Naoya; Zhang Ziyi; Schneider Teseo; Wang Biran; Panozzo Daniele; Knaut Holger

During animal embryogenesis, homeostasis and disease, tissues push and pull on their surroundings to move forward. Although the force-generating machinery is known, it is unknown how tissues exert physical stresses on their substrate to generate motion in vivo. Here, we identify the force transmission machinery, the substrate, and the stresses that a tissue, the zebrafish posterior lateral line primordium, generates during its migration. We find that the primordium couples actin flow through integrins to the basement membrane for forward movement. Talin/integrin-mediated coupling is required for efficient migration and its loss is partly compensated for by increased actin flow. Using Embryogram, an approach to measure stresses in vivo, we show that the primordium’s rear exerts high stresses, indicating that this tissue pushes itself forward with its back. This unexpected strategy likely also underlies the motion of other tissues in animals.

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