New insights into the organization and regulation of the apical polarity network in mammalian epithelial cells.
- Proteomics of Cellular Signaling
- Quantitative Biology Unit
Cell polarity is a fundamental property of most animal cells and is critical during development and for most cell and tissue functions. Epithelial cells are organized into apical and basolateral compartments, and this intrinsic cellular asymmetry is essential for all functions that are carried out by epithelial tissue. The establishment of a polarized epithelial phenotype is orchestrated by major rearrangements of the cell cytoskeleton, polarized membrane trafficking, the formation and maturation of epithelial cell junctions, cell signaling pathways, and the generation of cortical phospholipid asymmetry. These processes need to be coordinated precisely in time and space and integrated with physical and chemical signals from the environment, failure of which leads to severe developmental disorders and various human diseases. At the heart of this regulatory network are the evolutionarily conserved polarity modules Par, Crumbs, and Scribble, whose components engage in complex cooperative and antagonistic interactions to compartmentalize and functionalize the epithelial cell cortex and to control the spatiotemporal activity of downstream polarity effectors. In this review, we will discuss recent insights into the organization and regulation of the mammalian Par and Crumbs modules and outline a hypothetical framework of how these proteins orchestrate epithelial polarity development, HIPPO signaling, and actomyosin activity at the apical-lateral border.