Tissue shape is often established early in development and needs to be scaled isotropically during growth. However, the cellular contributors and ways by which cells interact tissue-wide to enable coordinated isotropic tissue scaling are not yet understood. Here, we follow cell and tissue shape changes in the zebrafish retinal neuroepithelium, which forms a cup with a smooth surface early in development and maintains this architecture as it grows. By combining 3D analysis and theory, we show how a global increase in cell height can maintain tissue shape during growth. Timely cell height increase occurs concurrently with a non-cell-autonomous actin redistribution. Blocking actin redistribution and cell height increase perturbs isotropic scaling and leads to disturbed, folded tissue shape. Taken together, our data show how global changes in cell shape enable isotropic growth of the developing retinal neuroepithelium, a concept that could also apply to other systems.
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