Planar polarity in epithelial morphogenesis

Mathematical Biology

19 September 14:00 - 14:45

Alexander Fletcher - University of Sheffield

Polarisation is one of the most basic levels of cell organisation. In developing epithelial tissues, sheets of cells become planar polarised – within the plane of the tissue – which is vital for coordinated cell behaviours during morphogenesis. Half a century ago, transplantation experiments revealed the ability of cells to communicate their planar polarity with their neighbours, but the underlying mechanisms remain controversial. Here, we combine mathematical modelling with re-examination of non-autonomous clone phenotypes in the Drosophila wing to characterise mechanisms by which polarity information may flow bidirectionally between the polarity proteins Frizzled (Fz) and Van Gogh (Vang). Unexpectedly, our modelling suggests that local intracellular feedback interactions confer directionality of information flow indirectly as a consequence of protein sorting. We conclude that directional signalling between cells depends on (i) the ability of polarity proteins to preferentially form asymmetric intercellular complexes, and (ii) the balance of feedback interactions between components of these complexes. In particular, the observed bidirectionality of signalling can be reproduced in our models through more than one combination of molecular wirings, suggesting avenues for future experimental investigations. We conclude by discussing ongoing work on the integration of planar polarity and tissue mechanics in epithelial morphogenesis.
Mats Gyllenberg
University of Helsinki
Torbjörn Lundh
Chalmers/University of Gothenburg
Philip Maini
University of Oxford
Roeland Merks
Universiteit Leiden
Mathisca de Gunst
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Roeland Merks


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