Rear traction forces drive adherent tissue migration in vivo

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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- and integrin-mediated coupling is required for efficient migration, and its loss is partially compensated for by increased actin flow. Using Embryogram, an approach to measure stresses in vivo, we show that the rear of the primordium exerts higher stresses than the front, which suggests that this tissue pushes itself forward with its back. This unexpected strategy probably also underlies the motion of other tissues in animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-204
Number of pages11
JournalNature Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Actins/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Basement Membrane/metabolism
  • Chemokine CXCL12/genetics
  • Chemotaxis
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian/metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Integrins/genetics
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Morphogenesis
  • Receptors, CXCR4/genetics
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Talin/genetics
  • Time Factors
  • Zebrafish/embryology
  • Zebrafish Proteins/genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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