Small intestinal organoids have become an important tool to study crypt homeostasis, cell fate dynamics and tissue biomechanics. Yet, the mechanisms that drive the budding of crypts from the smooth organoid epithelium remain incompletely understood. Locally enhanced proliferation has been suggested to induce tissue buckling and crypt initiation. Here we report that changes in cell morphology play a crucial role in crypt formation. Crypt formation is preceded by local epithelial thickening, apicobasal elongation, and apical narrowing, resulting in a wedge-like cell-shape, followed by apical evagination and crypt outgrowth. Myosin II activity is found to coincide with apical constriction of cells, while inhibition of myosin suppresses apical constriction and bud formation. The data suggest that myosin-driven apical constriction is a key driving force of bud initiation in small intestinal organoids.

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Elsevier B.V.
Developmental Biology
Quantitative Developmental Biology

Hartl, L., Huelsz-Prince, G., van Zon, J., & Tans, S. (2019). Apical constriction is necessary for crypt formation in small intestinal organoids. Developmental Biology, 450(2), 76–81. doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2019.03.009