Neural progenitor cells (NPCs), which are apicobasally elongated and densely packed in the developing brain, systematically move their nuclei/somata in a cell cycle–dependent manner, called interkinetic nuclear migration (IKNM): apical during G2 and basal during G1. Although intracellular molecular mechanisms of individual IKNM have been explored, how heterogeneous IKNMs are collectively coordinated is unknown. Our quantitative cell-biological and in silico analyses revealed that tissue elasticity mechanically assists an initial step of basalward IKNM. When the soma of an M-phase progenitor cell rounds up using actomyosin within the subapical space, a microzone within 10 μm from the surface, which is compressed and elastic because of the apical surface’s contractility, laterally pushes the densely neighboring processes of non–M-phase cells. The pressed processes then recoil centripetally and basally to propel the nuclei/somata of the progenitor’s daughter cells. Thus, indirect neighbor-assisted transfer of mechanical energy from mother to daughter helps efficient brain development.
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