Although extracellular force has a profound effect on cell shape, cytoskeleton tension, and cell proliferation through the Hippo signaling effector Yki/YAP/TAZ, how intracellular force regulates these processes remains poorly understood. Here, we report an essential role for spectrin in specifying cell shape by transmitting intracellular actomyosin force to cell membrane. While activation of myosin II in Drosophila melanogaster pupal retina leads to increased cortical tension, apical constriction, and Yki-mediated hyperplasia, spectrin mutant cells, despite showing myosin II activation and Yki-mediated hyperplasia, paradoxically display decreased cortical tension and expanded apical area. Mechanistically, we show that spectrin is required for tethering cortical F-actin to cell membrane domains outside the adherens junctions (AJs). Thus, in the absence of spectrin, the weakened attachment of cortical F-actin to plasma membrane results in a failure to transmit actomyosin force to cell membrane, causing an expansion of apical surfaces. These results uncover an essential mechanism that couples cell shape, cortical tension, and Hippo signaling and highlight the importance of non–AJ membrane domains in dictating cell shape in tissue morphogenesis.

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