Dorsal closure is a morphogenetic event that occurs during mid-embryogenesis in many insects including Drosophila, during which the ectoderm migrates on the extraembryonic amnioserosa to seal the embryo dorsally. The contribution of the ectoderm in this event has been known for a long time. However, amnioserosa tension and contractibility have recently been shown also to be instrumental to the closure. A critical pre-requisite for dorsal closure is integrity of these tissues that in part is mediated by cell-cell junctions and cell adhesion. In this regard, mutations impairing junction formation and/or adhesion lead to dorsal closure. However, no role for the gap junction proteins Innexins has so far been described.
Here, we show that Innexin 1, 2 and 3, are present in the ectoderm but also in the amnioserosa in plaques consistent with gap junctions. However, only the loss of Inx3 leads to dorsal closure defects that are completely rescued by overexpression of inx3::GFP in the whole embryo. Loss of Inx3 leads to the destabilisation of Inx1, Inx2 and DE-cadherin at the plasma membrane, suggesting that these four proteins form a complex. Accordingly, in addition to the known interaction of Inx2 with DE-cadherin, we show that Inx3 can bind to DE-cadherin. Furthermore, Inx3-GFP overexpression recruits DE-cadherin from its wildtype plasma membrane domain to typical Innexin plaques, strengthening the notion that they form a complex. Finally, we show that Inx3 stability is directly dependent on tissue tension. Taken together, we propose that Inx3 is a critical factor for dorsal closure and that it mediates the stability of Inx1, 2 and DE-cadherin by forming a complex.