Cadherin regulation of planar polarity

Project: Research project

Project Details


PROJECT SUMMARY During human development, cells interact with one another to drive collective and oriented cell behaviors that control organ formation and tissue patterning. This coordination between neighboring cells is governed by planar cell polarity (PCP), a signaling pathway conserved from flies to humans. An excellent example and functional read-out of PCP, or collective polarization, is the ordered alignment of body hairs across the mammalian skin along the anterior-posterior body axis. Genetic disruption of PCP components leads to severe developmental disorders including cardiomyopathies, ciliopathies, and neural tube defects such as spina bifida. We lack a detailed understanding for how targeting of the PCP pathway leads to developmental disorders. Importantly, PCP disruption in mice that results in developmental defects and embryonic lethality also results in a failure to properly pattern the embryonic epidermis, thus making the moue skin a suitable model system to study the conserved biology of PCP. A hallmark feature of PCP is the asymmetric localization of core PCP proteins at cell borders within a junctional complex organized via intercellular interactions of cadherin family member Celsr1. Our long-term goal is to understand how Celsr1 adhesive interactions organize asymmetric cell junctions to coordinate tissue polarity and how this molecular assembly is perturbed in human disease. The need to understand how Celsr1 adhesion coordinates PCP asymmetry is underscored by the recent identification of novel, predicted pathogenic, Celsr1 mutations in patients with neural tube and congenital heart defects. Previously, our work revealed a role for cadherin-mediated dimerization, or lateral clustering, in the organization of asymmetric PCP complexes. We hypothesize that Celsr1 cis-dimerization regulates trafficking of PCP complexes during PCP establishment and that disease-associated Celsr1 mutations differentially impair Celsr1 adhesion and dimerization interactions to disrupt PCP during development. Using the mammalian skin as a conduit for PCP function, along with molecular biology, protein biochemistry, advanced imaging and in vivo genetic approaches, our research program will uncover the pathomechanisms of human disease-associated Celsr1 mutations and reveal how Clesr1 dimerization regulates PCP establishment and maintenance. These studies will provide novel insight into the mechanisms that regulate PCP and those that are perturbed in human developmental disorders.
Effective start/end date9/1/236/30/24


  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences: $411,924.00


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