The adherens junction-associated LIM domain protein Smallish regulates epithelial morphogenesis.
ABSTRACT: In epithelia, cells adhere to each other in a dynamic fashion, allowing the cells to change their shape and move along each other during morphogenesis. The regulation of adhesion occurs at the belt-shaped adherens junction, the zonula adherens (ZA). Formation of the ZA depends on components of the Par-atypical PKC (Par-aPKC) complex of polarity regulators. We have identified the Lin11, Isl-1, Mec-3 (LIM) protein Smallish (Smash), the orthologue of vertebrate LMO7, as a binding partner of Bazooka/Par-3 (Baz), a core component of the Par-aPKC complex. Smash also binds to Canoe/Afadin and the tyrosine kinase Src42A and localizes to the ZA in a planar polarized fashion. Animals lacking Smash show loss of planar cell polarity (PCP) in the embryonic epidermis and reduced cell bond tension, leading to severe defects during embryonic morphogenesis of epithelial tissues and organs. Overexpression of Smash causes apical constriction of epithelial cells. We propose that Smash is a key regulator of morphogenesis coordinating PCP and actomyosin contractility at the ZA.
Project description:A cell polarity complex consisting of partitioning defective 3 (PAR-3), atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) and PAR-6 has a central role in the development of cell polarity in epithelial cells. In vertebrate epithelial cells, this complex localizes to tight junctions. Here, we provide evidence for the existence of a distinct PAR protein complex in endothelial cells. Both PAR-3 and PAR-6 associate directly with the adherens junction protein vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin). This association is direct and mediated through non-overlapping domains in VE-cadherin. PAR-3 and PAR-6 are recruited independently to cell-cell contacts. Surprisingly, the VE-cadherin-associated PAR protein complex lacks aPKC. Ectopic expression of VE-cadherin in epithelial cells affects tight junction formation. Our findings suggest that in endothelial cells, another PAR protein complex exists that localizes to adherens junctions and does not promote cellular polarization through aPKC activity. They also point to a direct role of a cadherin in the regulation of cell polarity in vertebrates.
Project description:The majority of excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain occurs at dendritic spines, which are actin-rich protrusions on the dendrites. The asymmetric nature of these structures suggests that proteins regulating cell polarity might be involved in their formation. Indeed, the polarity protein PAR-3 is required for normal spine morphogenesis. However, this function is independent of association with atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) and PAR-6. Here we show that PAR-6 together with aPKC plays a distinct but essential role in spine morphogenesis. Knockdown of PAR-6 inhibits spine morphogenesis, whereas overexpression of PAR-6 increases spine density, and these effects are mediated by aPKC. Using a FRET biosensor, we further show that p190 RhoGAP and RhoA act downstream of the PAR-6/aPKC complex. These results define a role for PAR-6 and aPKC in dendritic spine biogenesis and maintenance, and reveal an unexpected link between the PAR-6/aPKC complex and RhoA activity.
Project description:The localisation of apico-basal polarity proteins along the Z-axis of epithelial cells is well understood while their distribution in the plane of the epithelium is poorly characterised. Here we provide a systematic description of the planar localisation of apico-basal polarity proteins in the Drosophila ommatidial epithelium. We show that the adherens junction proteins Shotgun and Armadillo, as well as the baso-lateral complexes, are bilateral, i.e. present on both sides of cell interfaces. In contrast, we report that other key adherens junction proteins, Bazooka and the myosin regulatory light chain (Spaghetti squash) are unilateral, i.e. present on one side of cell interfaces. Furthermore, we demonstrate that planar cell polarity (PCP) and not the apical determinants Crumbs and Par-6 control Bazooka unilaterality in cone cells. Altogether, our work unravels an unexpected organisation and combination of apico-basal, cytoskeletal and planar polarity proteins that is different on either side of cell-cell interfaces and unique for the different contacts of the same cell.
Project description:Tissue morphogenesis requires assembling and disassembling individual cell-cell contacts without losing epithelial integrity. This requires dynamic control of adherens junction (AJ) positioning around the apical domain, but the mechanisms involved are unclear. We show that atypical Protein Kinase C (aPKC) is required for symmetric AJ positioning during Drosophila embryogenesis. aPKC is dispensable for initial apical AJ recruitment, but without aPKC, AJs form atypical planar-polarized puncta at gastrulation. Preceding this, microtubules fail to dissociate from centrosomes, and at gastrulation abnormally persistent centrosomal microtubule asters cluster AJs into the puncta. Dynein enrichment at the puncta suggests it may draw AJs and microtubules together and microtubule disruption disperses the puncta. Through cytoskeletal disruption in wild-type embryos, we find a balance of microtubule and actin interactions controls AJ symmetry versus planar polarity during normal gastrulation. aPKC apparently regulates this balance. Without aPKC, abnormally strong microtubule interactions break AJ symmetry and epithelial structure is lost.
Project description:The transmembrane protein Crumbs (Crb) functions in apical polarity and epithelial integrity. To better understand its role in epithelial morphogenesis, we examined Crb localization and dynamics in the late follicular epithelium of Drosophila. Crb was unexpectedly dynamic during middle-to-late stages of egg chamber development, being lost from the marginal zone (MZ) in stage 9 before abruptly returning at the end of stage 10b, then undergoing a pulse of endocytosis in stage 12. The reappearance of MZ Crb is necessary to maintain an intact adherens junction and MZ. Although Crb has been proposed to interact through its juxtamembrane domain with Moesin (Moe), a FERM domain protein that regulates the cortical actin cytoskeleton, the functional significance of this interaction is poorly understood. We found that whereas the Crb juxtamembrane domain was not required for adherens junction integrity, it was necessary for MZ localization of Moe, aPKC and F-actin. Furthermore, Moe and aPKC functioned antagonistically, suggesting that Moe limits Crb levels by reducing its interactions with the apical Par network. Additionally, Moe mutant cells lost Crb from the apical membrane and accumulated excess Crb at the MZ, suggesting that Moe regulates Crb distribution at the membrane. Together, these studies reveal reciprocal interactions between Crb, Moe and aPKC during cellular morphogenesis.
Project description:During lung development, proper epithelial cell arrangements are critical for the formation of an arborized network of tubes. Each tube requires a lumen, the diameter of which must be tightly regulated to enable optimal lung function. Lung branching and lumen morphogenesis require close epithelial cell-cell contacts that are maintained as a result of adherens junctions, tight junctions and by intact apical-basal (A/B) polarity. However, the molecular mechanisms that maintain epithelial cohesion and lumen diameter in the mammalian lung are unknown. Here we show that Scribble, a protein implicated in planar cell polarity (PCP) signalling, is necessary for normal lung morphogenesis. Lungs of the Scrib mouse mutant Circletail (Crc) are abnormally shaped with fewer airways, and these airways often lack a visible, 'open' lumen. Mechanistically we show that Scrib genetically interacts with the core PCP gene Vangl2 in the developing lung and that the distribution of PCP pathway proteins and Rho mediated cytoskeletal modification is perturbed in Scrib(Crc/Crc) lungs. However A/B polarity, which is disrupted in Drosophila Scrib mutants, is largely unaffected. Notably, we find that Scrib mediates functions not attributed to other PCP proteins in the lung. Specifically, Scrib localises to both adherens and tight junctions of lung epithelia and knockdown of Scrib in lung explants and organotypic cultures leads to reduced cohesion of lung epithelial cells. Live imaging of Scrib knockdown lungs shows that Scrib does not affect bud bifurcation, as previously shown for the PCP protein Celsr1, but is required to maintain epithelial cohesion. To understand the mechanism leading to reduced cell-cell association, we show that Scrib associates with ?-catenin in embryonic lung and the sub-cellular distribution of adherens and tight junction proteins is perturbed in mutant lung epithelia. Our data reveal that Scrib is required for normal lung epithelial organisation and lumen morphogenesis by maintaining cell-cell contacts. Thus we reveal novel and important roles for Scrib in lung development operating via the PCP pathway, and in regulating junctional complexes and cell cohesion.
Project description:The Par-3/Baz family of polarity determinants is highly conserved across metazoans and includes C. elegans PAR-3, Drosophila Bazooka (Baz), human Par-3 (PARD3), and human Par-3-like (PARD3B). The C. elegans PAR-3 protein localises to the anterior pole of asymmetrically dividing zygotes with cell division cycle 42 (CDC42), atypical protein kinase C (aPKC), and PAR-6. The same C. elegans 'PAR complex' can also localise in an apical ring in epithelial cells. Drosophila Baz localises to the apical pole of asymmetrically dividing neuroblasts with Cdc42-aPKC-Par6, while in epithelial cells localises both in an apical ring with Cdc42-aPKC-Par6 and with E-cadherin at adherens junctions. These apical and junctional localisations have become separated in human PARD3, which is strictly apical in many epithelia, and human PARD3B, which is strictly junctional in many epithelia. We discuss the molecular basis for this fundamental difference in localisation, as well as the possible functions of Par-3/Baz family proteins as oligomeric clustering agents at the apical domain or at adherens junctions in epithelial stem cells. The evolution of Par-3 family proteins into distinct apical PARD3 and junctional PARD3B orthologs coincides with the emergence of stratified squamous epithelia in vertebrates, where PARD3B, but not PARD3, is strongly expressed in basal layer stem cells - which lack a typical apical domain. We speculate that PARD3B may contribute to clustering of E-cadherin, signalling from adherens junctions via Src family kinases or mitotic spindle orientation by adherens junctions in response to mechanical forces.
Project description:The ability of epithelial cells to assemble into sheets relies on their zonula adherens (ZA), a circumferential belt of adherens junction (AJ) material, which can be remodeled during development to shape organs. Here, we show that during ZA remodeling in a model neuroepithelial cell, the Cdc42 effector P21-activated kinase 4 (Pak4/Mbt) regulates AJ morphogenesis and stability through ?-catenin (?-cat/Arm) phosphorylation. We find that ?-catenin phosphorylation by Mbt, and associated AJ morphogenesis, is needed for the retention of the apical determinant Par3/Bazooka at the remodeling ZA. Importantly, this retention mechanism functions together with Par1-dependent lateral exclusion of Par3/Bazooka to regulate apical membrane differentiation. Our results reveal an important functional link between Pak4, AJ material morphogenesis, and polarity remodeling during organogenesis downstream of Par3.
Project description:Impaired cell polarity is a hallmark of diseased tissue. In the cardiovascular system, laminar blood flow induces endothelial planar cell polarity, represented by elongated cell shape and asymmetric distribution of intracellular organelles along the axis of blood flow. Disrupted endothelial planar polarity is considered to be pro-inflammatory, suggesting that the establishment of endothelial polarity elicits an anti-inflammatory response. However, a causative relationship between polarity and inflammatory responses has not been firmly established. Here, we find that a cell polarity protein, PAR-3, is an essential gatekeeper of GSK3? activity in response to laminar blood flow. We show that flow-induced spatial distribution of PAR-3/aPKC? and aPKC?/GSK3? complexes controls local GSK3? activity and thereby regulates endothelial planar polarity. The spatial information for GSK3? activation is essential for flow-dependent polarity to the flow axis, but is not necessary for flow-induced anti-inflammatory response. Our results shed light on a novel relationship between endothelial polarity and vascular homeostasis highlighting avenues for novel therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling controls tissue morphogenesis by coordinating collective cell behaviors. We show a critical role for the core PCP proteins Celsr1 and Vangl2 in the complex morphogenetic process of intraluminal valve formation in lymphatic vessels. We found that valve-forming endothelial cells undergo elongation, reorientation, and collective migration into the vessel lumen as they initiate valve leaflet formation. During this process, Celsr1 and Vangl2 are recruited from endothelial filopodia to discrete membrane domains at cell-cell contacts. Celsr1- or Vangl2-deficient mice show valve aplasia due to failure of endothelial cells to undergo rearrangements and adopt perpendicular orientation at valve initiation sites. Mechanistically, we show that Celsr1 regulates dynamic cell movements by inhibiting stabilization of VE-cadherin and maturation of adherens junctions. These findings reveal a role for PCP signaling in regulating adherens junctions and directed cell rearrangements during vascular development.