Optogenetic relaxation of actomyosin contractility uncovers mechanistic roles of cortical tension during cytokinesis.
Abstract: Actomyosin contractility generated cooperatively by nonmuscle myosin II and actin filaments plays essential roles in a wide range of biological processes, such as cell motility, cytokinesis, and tissue morphogenesis. However, it is still unknown how actomyosin contractility generates force and maintains cellular morphology. Here, we demonstrate an optogenetic method to induce relaxation of actomyosin contractility. The system, named OptoMYPT, combines a catalytic subunit of the type I phosphatase-binding domain of MYPT1 with an optogenetic dimerizer, so that it allows light-dependent recruitment of endogenous PP1c to the plasma membrane. Blue-light illumination was sufficient to induce dephosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains and decrease in traction force at the subcellular level. The OptoMYPT system was further employed to understand the mechanics of actomyosin-based cortical tension and contractile ring tension during cytokinesis. We found that the relaxation of cortical tension at both poles by OptoMYPT accelerated the furrow ingression rate, revealing that the cortical tension substantially antagonizes constriction of the cleavage furrow. Based on these results, the OptoMYPT system will provide new opportunities to understand cellular and tissue mechanics.