Open Access
Article
Epithelial cell surface polarity: the early steps
Lene N Nejsum1,W James Nelson1
1
Departments of Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Physiology, The James H. Clark Center, Bio-X Program, Stanford University, 318 Campus Drive E200, Stanford, CA 94305-5430, USA. nejsum@stanford.edu
DOI: 10.2741/3295 Volume 14 Issue 3, pp.1088-1098
Published: 01 January 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular engines that build and break epithelial junctions)
Abstract

Establishment and maintenance of epithelial cell surface polarity is of vital importance for the correct function of transporting epithelia. To maintain normal cell function, the distribution of apical and basal-lateral proteins is highly regulated and defects in expression levels or plasma membrane targeting can have severe consequences. It has been shown recently that initiation of cell-surface polarity occurs immediately upon cell-cell contact, and requires components of the lateral targeting patch, the Exocyst and the lateral SNARE complex to specify delivery of basolateral proteins to the site of cell-cell adhesion. The Exocyst and SNARE complex are present in the cytoplasm in single epithelial cells before adhesion. Upon initial cell-cell adhesion, E-cadherin accumulates at the forming contact between cells. Shortly hereafter, components of the lateral targeting patch, the Exocyst and the lateral SNARE complex, co-localize with E-cadherin at the forming contact, where they function in specifying the delivery of basal-lateral.

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Lene N Nejsum, W James Nelson. Epithelial cell surface polarity: the early steps. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2009. 14(3); 1088-1098.