Radial WNT5A-guided post-mitotic filopodial pathfinding is critical for midgut tube elongation


The early midgut undergoes intensive elongation, but the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms are unknown. The early midgut epithelium is pseudostratified, and its nuclei travel between apical and basal surfaces in concert with cell cycle. Using 3D confocal imaging and 2D live imaging, we profiled behaviors of individual dividing cells. As nuclei migrate apically for mitosis, cells maintain a basal process (BP), which splits but is inherited by only one daughter. After mitosis, some daughters directly use the inherited BP as a ‘conduit’ to transport the nucleus basally, while >50% of daughters generate a new basal filopodium and use it as a path to return the nucleus. Post-mitotic filopodial ‘pathfinding’ is guided by mesenchymal WNT5A. Without WNT5A, some cells fail to tether basally and undergo apoptosis, leading to a shortened midgut. Thus, these studies reveal previously unrecognized strategies for efficient post-mitotic nuclear trafficking, which is critical for early midgut elongation.