Polarization of epithelial cells is evident in two axes, in the ubiquitous apical-basolateral axis and within the plane of the epithelium as a second axis, the latter generally referred to as Planar Cell Polarity (or PCP). Examples of PCP are present in almost all organs, and in mammals, for example, most obvious in aspects of skin development with hair follicle orientation or cellular arrangements in internal organs, like the inner ear epithelium with its sensory cilia. In Drosophila, all adult cuticular structures and organs display striking PCP features, which makes the study of PCP establishment in Drosophila serve as a paradigm for the process in developmental patterning and disease in general. Analyses in Drosophila have established a conserved molecular pathway anchored around the Frizzled (Fz)/PCP core factor cassette and associated regulatory factors. This core Fz/PCP pathway and its regulatory components are conserved throughout evolution regulating many aspects of cellular polarization not only in epithelial organs, but in mammals also in directed cell migration of mesenchymal cells during gastrulation and neurulation. Although a framework of the interactions among the core Fz/PCP factors is emerging, little is known about the actual molecular mechanisms underlying their interactions. The scope of this application is to follow-up on very interesting gene identifications from a genome wide screen for novel regulators of the core PCP factors. Based on interesting preliminary data, we propose as Specific Aims to (1) address the role of the Ubiquitin-ligase activity of the Anaphase Promoting Complex (APC/C) and define which components of this complex act in PCP and how, (2) define the function of the novel ubiquitin-like modifier encoded by CG15283 in PCP establishment and how it might regulate the activity of core Fz/PCP factors or APC/C components during PCP signaling, and (3) identify the PCP specific substrates of the APC/C and define their molecular regulation by the APC/C. We have established several assays that will allow us to address these aims via a combination of functional in vivo studies in Drosophila, biochemical experiments, and cell culture analyses. As the roles of the APC/C outside cell cycle control and a function of the conserved CG15283 peptide are largely obscure or completely unknown, respectively, our application will provide first insight(s) into the mechanism(s) of these. Fz/PCP establishment has been linked to several medical abnormalities, including deafness, cancer, polycystic kidney disease, and ciliopathies. Thus the information acquired in this application will both advance our understanding of PCP regulation and organ patterning, and will also be of medical relevance in several disease contexts.

Public Health Relevance

Cellular polarization is a critical aspect of development, organogenesis, and tissue function in general. Establishment and maintenance of epithelial cellular polarity is linked to many diseases, ranging from ciliopathies and deafness, to cancer (e.g. several polarity determinants are tumor suppressors or proto- oncogenes). In this application we will address protein modification aspects in the molecular framework regulating cellular polarity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Development - 2 Study Section (DEV2)
Program Officer
Hoodbhoy, Tanya
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
Zip Code
Humphries, Ashley Ceinwen; Mlodzik, Marek (2018) From instruction to output: Wnt/PCP signaling in development and cancer. Curr Opin Cell Biol 51:110-116
Wu, Jun; Mlodzik, Marek (2017) Wnt/PCP Instructions for Cilia in Left-Right Asymmetry. Dev Cell 40:423-424
Weber, Ursula; Mlodzik, Marek (2017) APC/CFzr/Cdh1-Dependent Regulation of Planar Cell Polarity Establishment via Nek2 Kinase Acting on Dishevelled. Dev Cell 40:53-66
Carvajal-Gonzalez, Jose Maria; Mulero-Navarro, Sonia; Mlodzik, Marek (2016) Centriole positioning in epithelial cells and its intimate relationship with planar cell polarity. Bioessays 38:1234-1245
Carvajal-Gonzalez, Jose Maria; Roman, Angel-Carlos; Mlodzik, Marek (2016) Positioning of centrioles is a conserved readout of Frizzled planar cell polarity signalling. Nat Commun 7:11135
Mlodzik, Marek (2016) The Dishevelled Protein Family: Still Rather a Mystery After Over 20 Years of Molecular Studies. Curr Top Dev Biol 117:75-91
Vega-Macaya, Franco; Manieu, Catalina; Valdivia, Mauricio et al. (2016) Establishment of the Muscle-Tendon Junction During Thorax Morphogenesis in Drosophila Requires the Rho-Kinase. Genetics 204:1139-1149
Collu, Giovanna M; Mlodzik, Marek (2015) Planar polarity: converting a morphogen gradient into cellular polarity. Curr Biol 25:R372-4
Balmer, Sophie; Dussert, Aurore; Collu, Giovanna M et al. (2015) Components of Intraflagellar Transport Complex A Function Independently of the Cilium to Regulate Canonical Wnt Signaling in Drosophila. Dev Cell 34:705-18
Mlodzik, Marek; Halder, Georg (2014) Walter J Gehring (1939-2014). EMBO J 33:1615-6

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications