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New publication in Development for Pichaud Lab

A new publication in Development for the Pichaud Lab reveals that during development, the small RhoGTPase Cdc42 defines the side of epithelial cells that mediates nutrient (e.g. intestine) or gas (lung) absorption. Their findings place Cdc42 atop the regulatory network that induces polarity in a range of epithelial cell types.

Abstract from the article:

Cdc42 regulates epithelial morphogenesis together with the Par complex (Baz/Par3-Par6-aPKC), Crumbs (Crb/CRB3) and Stardust (Sdt/PALS1). However, how these proteins work together and interact during epithelial morphogenesis is not well understood. To address this issue, we used the genetically amenable Drosophila pupal photoreceptor and follicular epithelium. We show that during epithelial morphogenesis active Cdc42 accumulates at the developing apical membrane and cell-cell contacts, independently of the Par complex and Crb. However, membrane localization of Baz, Par6-aPKC and Crb all depend on Cdc42. We find that although binding of Cdc42 to Par6 is not essential for the recruitment of Par6 and aPKC to the membrane, it is required for their apical localization and accumulation, which we find also depends on Par6 retention by Crb. In the pupal photoreceptor, membrane recruitment of Par6-aPKC also depends on Baz. Our work shows that Cdc42 is required for this recruitment and suggests that this factor promotes the handover of Par6-aPKC from Baz onto Crb. Altogether, we propose that Cdc42 drives morphogenesis by conferring apical identity, Par-complex assembly and apical accumulation of Crb.