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1.  Cell Polarity Regulator PARD6B Is Essential for Trophectoderm Formation in the Preimplantation Mouse Embryo1 
Biology of Reproduction  2010;83(3):347-358.
In preimplantation mouse development, the first cell lineages to be established are the trophectoderm (TE) and inner cell mass. TE possesses epithelial features, including apical-basal cell polarity and intercellular junctions, which are crucial to generate a fluid-filled cavity in the blastocyst. Homologs of the partitioning defective (par) genes in Caenorhabditis elegans are critical regulators of cell polarity. However, their roles in regulating TE differentiation and blastocyst formation remain unclear. Here, the role of mouse Pard6b, a homolog of par-6 gene and a component of the PAR-atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) complex, was investigated. Pard6b expression was knocked down by microinjecting RNA interference construct into zygotes. Pard6b-knockdown embryos cleaved and compacted normally but failed to form the blastocyst cavity. The cavitation failure is likely the result of defective intercellular junctions, because Pard6b knockdown caused abnormal distribution of actin filaments and TJP1 (ZO-1) tight junction (TJ) protein and interfered with cavitation in chimeras containing cells from normal embryos. Defective TJ formation may be caused by abnormal cell polarization, because the apical localization of PRKCZ (aPKCzeta) was absent in Pard6b-knockdown embryos. Pard6b knockdown also diminished the expression of CDX2, a TE-lineage transcription factor, in the outer cells. TEAD4, a transcriptional activator that is required for Cdx2 expression and cavity formation, was not essential for the transcription of Pard6b. Taken together, Pard6b is necessary for blastocyst morphogenesis, particularly the development of TE-specific features—namely, the apical-basal cell polarity, formation of TJ, paracellular permeability sealing, and up-regulated expression of Cdx2.
PARD6B regulates formation of trophectoderm epithelium and is involved in the up-regulation of the trophectoderm-lineage transcription factor CDX2.
PMCID: PMC2924801  PMID: 20505164
blastocyst; Cdx2; cell polarity; cavity formation; early development; epithelium; gene regulation; Nanog; paracellular permeability seal; PRKCZ (aPKCzeta); Tead4; TJP1 (ZO-1); trophoblast
2.  Regulation of neurocoel morphogenesis by Pard6γb 
Developmental biology  2008;324(1):41-54.
The Par3/Par6/aPKC protein complex plays a key role in the establishment and maintenance of apicobasal polarity, a cellular characteristic essential for tissue and organ morphogenesis, differentiation and homeostasis. During a forward genetic screen for liver and pancreas mutants, we identified a pard6γb mutant, representing the first known pard6 mutant in a vertebrate organism. pard6γb mutants exhibit defects in epithelial tissue development as well as multiple lumens in the neural tube. Analyses of the cells lining the neural tube cavity, or neurocoel, in wildtype and pard6γb mutant embryos show that lack of Pard6γb function leads to defects in mitotic spindle orientation during neurulation. We also found that the PB1 (aPKC-binding) and CRIB (Cdc-42-binding) domains and the KPLG amino acid sequence within the PDZ domain (Pals1- and Crumbs binding) are not required for Pard6γb localization but are essential for its function in neurocoel morphogenesis. Apical membranes are reduced, but not completely absent, in mutants lacking the zygotic, or both the maternal and zygotic, function of pard6γb, leading us to examine the localization and function of the three additional zebrafish Pard6 proteins. We found that Pard6α, but not Pard6β or Pard6γa, could partially rescue the pard6γbs441 mutant phenotypes. Altogether, these data indicate a previously unappreciated functional diversity and complexity within the vertebrate pard6 gene family.
PMCID: PMC2626139  PMID: 18817769
Par6; neurulation; apicobasal polarity; epithelium; zebrafish
3.  Atypical Protein Kinase C Is Involved in the Evolutionarily Conserved Par Protein Complex and Plays a Critical Role in Establishing Epithelia-Specific Junctional Structures 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;152(6):1183-1196.
We have previously shown that during early Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis PKC-3, a C. elegans atypical PKC (aPKC), plays critical roles in the establishment of cell polarity required for subsequent asymmetric cleavage by interacting with PAR-3 [Tabuse, Y., Y. Izumi, F. Piano, K.J. Kemphues, J. Miwa, and S. Ohno. 1998. Development (Camb.). 125:3607–3614]. Together with the fact that aPKC and a mammalian PAR-3 homologue, aPKC-specific interacting protein (ASIP), colocalize at the tight junctions of polarized epithelial cells (Izumi, Y., H. Hirose, Y. Tamai, S.-I. Hirai, Y. Nagashima, T. Fujimoto, Y. Tabuse, K.J. Kemphues, and S. Ohno. 1998. J. Cell Biol. 143:95–106), this suggests a ubiquitous role for aPKC in establishing cell polarity in multicellular organisms. Here, we show that the overexpression of a dominant-negative mutant of aPKC (aPKCkn) in MDCK II cells causes mislocalization of ASIP/PAR-3. Immunocytochemical analyses, as well as measurements of paracellular diffusion of ions or nonionic solutes, demonstrate that the biogenesis of the tight junction structure itself is severely affected in aPKCkn-expressing cells. Furthermore, these cells show increased interdomain diffusion of fluorescent lipid and disruption of the polarized distribution of Na+,K+-ATPase, suggesting that epithelial cell surface polarity is severely impaired in these cells. On the other hand, we also found that aPKC associates not only with ASIP/PAR-3, but also with a mammalian homologue of C. elegans PAR-6 (mPAR-6), and thereby mediates the formation of an aPKC-ASIP/PAR-3–PAR-6 ternary complex that localizes to the apical junctional region of MDCK cells. These results indicate that aPKC is involved in the evolutionarily conserved PAR protein complex, and plays critical roles in the development of the junctional structures and apico-basal polarization of mammalian epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2199212  PMID: 11257119
atypical PKC; tight junction; epithelial cell polarity; PAR-3; PAR-6
4.  The WD40 protein Morg1 facilitates Par6–aPKC binding to Crb3 for apical identity in epithelial cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;200(5):635-650.
Par6–aPKC recruitment to the premature apical membrane through Morg1 interaction with Par6 is required for definition of apical identity of epithelial cells.
Formation of apico-basal polarity in epithelial cells is crucial for both morphogenesis (e.g., cyst formation) and function (e.g., tight junction development). Atypical protein kinase C (aPKC), complexed with Par6, is considered to translocate to the apical membrane and function in epithelial cell polarization. However, the mechanism for translocation of the Par6–aPKC complex has remained largely unknown. Here, we show that the WD40 protein Morg1 (mitogen-activated protein kinase organizer 1) directly binds to Par6 and thus facilitates apical targeting of Par6–aPKC in Madin-Darby canine kidney epithelial cells. Morg1 also interacts with the apical transmembrane protein Crumbs3 to promote Par6–aPKC binding to Crumbs3, which is reinforced with the apically localized small GTPase Cdc42. Depletion of Morg1 disrupted both tight junction development in monolayer culture and cyst formation in three-dimensional culture; apico-basal polarity was notably restored by forced targeting of aPKC to the apical surface. Thus, Par6–aPKC recruitment to the premature apical membrane appears to be required for definition of apical identity of epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3587828  PMID: 23439680
5.  The Polarity Protein Par6 Induces Cell Proliferation and Is Overexpressed in Breast Cancer 
Cancer research  2008;68(20):8201-8209.
The Polarity protein complex Par6/aPKC/Cdc42 regulates polarization processes during epithelial morphogenesis, astrocyte migration and axon specification. Others and we have demonstrated that this complex is also required for disruption of apical-basal polarity during the oncogene ErbB2-induced transformation and TGFβ-induced epithelial mesenchymal transition of mammary epithelial cells. Here, we report that expression of Par6 by itself in mammary epithelial cells induces epidermal growth factor independent cell proliferation and development of hyperplastic three-dimensional acini without affecting apical-basal polarity. This is dependent on the ability of Par6 to interact with aPKC and Cdc42 but not Lgl and Par3 and its ability to promote sustained activation of MEK/Erk signaling. Downregulation of Cdc42 or aPKC expression suppresses the ability of Par6 to induce proliferation, demonstrating that Par6 promotes cell proliferation by interacting with aPKC and Cdc42. We also show that Par6 is overexpressed in breast cancer derived cell lines and in both precancerous and advanced primary human breast cancers suggesting that Par6 overexpression regulates tumor initiation and progression. Thus, in addition to regulating cell polarization processes, Par6 is an inducer of cell proliferation in breast epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2948755  PMID: 18922891
6.  The Cdc42/Par6/aPKC polarity complex regulates apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation in epithelia 
Current biology : CB  2010;20(8):677-686.
In response to stress- or tissue damage-induced apoptosis, unaffected epithelial cells undergo compensatory proliferation to maintain the integrity of the epithelium. Proximal signals regulating this response are not fully appreciated, but JNK activity appears to be critical for both apoptosis and compensatory proliferation. Since disruption of epithelial cell apical-basal polarity, as can occur in early cancer development and is correlated with increased proliferation by means not fully characterized, we considered whether disruption of the various polarity complexes could provide signals identifying damaged epithelial cells, and thus lead to apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation.
We identify the Cdc42/Par6/aPKC Par polarity complex as uniquely and specifically regulating apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation in Drosophila epithelia. Genetic depletion of individual components or disruption of complex formation and localization, but not other polarity complexes, induces JNK-dependent apoptosis and JNK-dependent compensatory proliferation following radiation injury. When apoptosis execution is blocked, by P35 expression, Cdc42/Par6/aPKC depleted tissues uniquely hyperproliferate leading to tissue/organ overgrowth. Disruption of Cdc42/Par6/aPKC leads to activation of JNK through increased Rho1-Rok activity, and Rok’s capacity to activate Myosin, but not F-actin.
We show that the Cdc42/Par6/aPKC polarity complex influences both a physiologic compensatory proliferation response after irradiation injury as well as a contrived compensatory non-cell autonomous hyperproliferation response when cell autonomous apoptosis, resulting from Cdc42/Par6/aPKC disruption, is inhibited. These results suggest the possibility that in cancer where apoptotic regulation is disrupted, loss of the Cdc42/Par6/aPKC polarity complex organization or localization could contribute to tumor hyperproliferation and explain how polarity disruption contributes to tumor development.
PMCID: PMC2910247  PMID: 20381350
Cdc42; apoptosis; compensatory proliferation; polarity regulation; epithelia
7.  Cdc42 Regulates Apical Junction Formation in Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells through PAK4 and Par6B 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(17):2996-3006.
A systematic screen of Cdc42 targets was carried out in human bronchial epithelial cells. Two kinases, PAK4 and Par6B/aPKC, were identified and are required for maturation of primordial junctions into apical junctions. PAK4 recruitment to primordial junctions is Cdc42-dependent, but maintenance at junctions during maturation is Par6B-dependent.
Cdc42 has been implicated in numerous biochemical pathways during epithelial morphogenesis, including the control of spindle orientation during mitosis, the establishment of apical-basal polarity, the formation of apical cell–cell junctions, and polarized secretion. To investigate the signaling pathways through which Cdc42 mediates these diverse effects, we have screened an siRNA library corresponding to the 36 known Cdc42 target proteins, in a human bronchial epithelial cell line. Two targets, PAK4 and Par6B, were identified as necessary for the formation of apical junctions. PAK4 is recruited to nascent cell–cell contacts in a Cdc42-dependent manner, where it is required for the maturation of primordial junctions into apical junctions. PAK4 kinase activity is essential for junction maturation, but overexpression of an activated PAK4 mutant disrupts this process. Par6B, together with its binding partner aPKC, is necessary both for junction maturation and for the retention of PAK4 at sites of cell–cell contact. This study demonstrates that controlled regulation of PAK4 is required for apical junction formation in lung epithelial cells and highlights potential cross-talk between two Cdc42 targets, PAK4 and Par6B.
PMCID: PMC2929993  PMID: 20631255
8.  Factors Derived From Preeclamptic Placentas Perturb Polarity Protein PARD-3 Expression and Distribution in Endothelial Cells 
This study aimed to examine (1) whether polarity protein partitioning defective-3 (PARD-3) was expressed in endothelial cells (ECs) and contributed to endothelial barrier integrity and (2) whether altered PARD-3 expression and distribution were associated with disturbed endothelial junction protein VE-cadherin expression induced by factors derived from preeclamptic (PE) placentas.
PARD-3 and VE-cadherin expressions were examined by immunofluorescent staining and Western blot in confluent ECs and in ECs treated with normal and PE placental conditioned medium (CM). Protein-protein interactions between PARD-3/VE-cadherin, PARD-3/ atypical protein kinase C (aPKCλ), and VE-cadherin/aPKCλ were examined by immuno-precipitation and immunobloting.
Similar to VE-cadherin, PARD-3 is localized at the cell contacts in control ECs. Both PARD-3 and VE-cadherin expressions were markedly reduced in cells treated with PE-CM for 2h, but not in cells treated with normal-CM compared to non-treated controls. Cytosol staining of VE-cadherin and PARD-3 was pronounced in cells after 24h treatment with PE-CM. PARD-3/VE-cadherin and PARD-3/aPKCλ complexes were detected in PE-CM treated cells, but not in untreated control cells and in cells after recovery. In contrast, VE-cadherin/aPKCλ complex was detected in control cells and in cells after recovery, but not in PE-CM treated cells.
Polarity protein PARD-3 is localized at cell contacts. Factors-derived from PE placentas not only interrupt junction protein VE-cadherin distribution, but also perturb polarity protein PARD-3 expression and distribution in ECs. The results of PARD-3/VE-cadherin and PARD-3/aPKCλ complexes formation in cells treated with placental CM suggest that factors-derived from placenta could interfere both junction protein and polarity protein functions in ECs.
PMCID: PMC3062264  PMID: 20959641
endothelium; PARD-3; aPKCλ; VE-cadherin; preeclampsia
9.  Factors Derived From Preeclamptic Placentas Perturb Polarity Protein PARD-3 Expression and Distribution in Endothelial Cells 
Reproductive Sciences  2011;18(2):164-171.
Objective: This study aimed to examine (1) whether polarity protein partitioning defective-3 (PARD-3) was expressed in endothelial cells (ECs) and contributed to endothelial barrier integrity and (2) whether altered PARD-3 expression and distribution were associated with disturbed endothelial junction protein VE-cadherin expression induced by factors derived from preeclamptic (PE) placentas. Methods: PARD-3 and VE-cadherin expressions were examined by immunofluorescent staining and Western blot in confluent ECs and in ECs treated with normal and PE placental conditioned medium (CM). Protein-protein interactions between PARD-3/VE-cadherin, PARD-3/ atypical protein kinase C (aPKCλ), and VE-cadherin/aPKCλ were examined by immuno-precipitation and immunobloting. Results: Similar to VE-cadherin, PARD-3 is localized at the cell contacts in control ECs. Both PARD-3 and VE-cadherin expressions were markedly reduced in cells treated with PE-CM for 2h, but not in cells treated with normal-CM compared to non-treated controls. Cytosol staining of VE-cadherin and PARD-3 was pronounced in cells after 24h treatment with PE-CM. PARD-3/VE-cadherin and PARD-3/aPKCλ complexes were detected in PE-CM treated cells, but not in untreated control cells and in cells after recovery. In contrast, VE-cadherin/aPKCλ complex was detected in control cells and in cells after recovery, but not in PE-CM treated cells. Conclusions: Polarity protein PARD-3 is localized at cell contacts. Factors-derived from PE placentas not only interrupt junction protein VE-cadherin distribution, but also perturb polarity protein PARD-3 expression and distribution in ECs. The results of PARD-3/VE-cadherin and PARD-3/aPKCλ complexes formation in cells treated with placental CM suggest that factors-derived from placenta could interfere both junction protein and polarity protein functions in ECs.
PMCID: PMC3062264  PMID: 20959641
endothelium; PARD-3; aPKCλ; VE-cadherin; preeclampsia
10.  EphrinB reverse signaling in cell-cell adhesion 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2009;3(3):250-255.
Cell-cell adhesion is a critical process for the formation and maintenance of tissue patterns during development, as well as invasion and metastasis of cancer cells. Although great strides have been made regarding our understanding of the processes that play a role in cell-cell adhesion, the precise mechanisms by which diverse signaling events regulate cell and tissue architecture is poorly understood. In this commentary we will focus on the Eph/ephrin signaling system, and specifically how the ephrinB1 transmembrane ligand for Eph receptor tyrosine kinases sends signals affecting cell-cell junctions. In a recent study using the epithelial cells of early stage Xenopus embryos, we have shown that loss- or gain-of function of ephrinB1 can disrupt cell-cell contacts and tight junctions. This study reveals a mechanism where ephrinB1 competes with active Cdc42 for binding to Par-6, a scaffold protein central to the Par polarity complex (Par-3/Par-6/Cdc42/aPKC) and disrupts the localization of tight junction-associated proteins (ZO-1, Cingulin) at tight junctions. This competition reduces aPKC activity critical to maintaining and/or forming tight junctions. Finally, phosphorylation of ephrinB1 on specific tyrosine residues can block the interaction between ephrinB1 and Par-6 at tight junctions, and restore tight junction formation. Recent evidence indicates that de-regulation of forward signaling through EphB receptors may play a role in metastatic progression in colon cancer. In light of the new data showing an effect of ephrinB reverse signaling on tight junctions, an additional mechanism can be hypothesized where de-regulation of ephrinB1 expression or phosphorylation may also impact metastatic progression.
PMCID: PMC2712803  PMID: 19276658
ephrin; Eph; cell-cell adhesion; Par-6; tight junctions
11.  The Rac activator Tiam1 controls tight junction biogenesis in keratinocytes through binding to and activation of the Par polarity complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;170(7):1029-1037.
The GTPases Rac and Cdc42 play a pivotal role in the establishment of cell polarity by stimulating biogenesis of tight junctions (TJs). In this study, we show that the Rac-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor Tiam1 (T-lymphoma invasion and metastasis) controls the cell polarity of epidermal keratinocytes. Similar to wild-type (WT) keratinocytes, Tiam1-deficient cells establish primordial E-cadherin–based adhesions, but subsequent junction maturation and membrane sealing are severely impaired. Tiam1 and V12Rac1 can rescue the TJ maturation defect in Tiam1-deficient cells, indicating that this defect is the result of impaired Tiam1–Rac signaling. Tiam1 interacts with Par3 and aPKCζ, which are two components of the conserved Par3–Par6–aPKC polarity complex, and triggers biogenesis of the TJ through the activation of Rac and aPKCζ, which is independent of Cdc42. Rac is activated upon the formation of primordial adhesions (PAs) in WT but not in Tiam1-deficient cells. Our data indicate that Tiam1-mediated activation of Rac in PAs controls TJ biogenesis and polarity in epithelial cells by association with and activation of the Par3–Par6–aPKC polarity complex.
PMCID: PMC2171536  PMID: 16186252
12.  aPKC phosphorylates JAM-A at Ser285 to promote cell contact maturation and tight junction formation 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;196(5):623-639.
The PAR-3–aPKC–PAR-6 complex is recruited to primordial cell–cell junctions, in which aPKC phosphorylates JAM-A to promote junctional maturation.
The PAR-3–atypical protein kinase C (aPKC)–PAR-6 complex has been implicated in the development of apicobasal polarity and the formation of tight junctions (TJs) in vertebrate epithelial cells. It is recruited by junctional adhesion molecule A (JAM-A) to primordial junctions where aPKC is activated by Rho family small guanosine triphosphatases. In this paper, we show that aPKC can interact directly with JAM-A in a PAR-3–independent manner. Upon recruitment to primordial junctions, aPKC phosphorylates JAM-A at S285 to promote the maturation of immature cell–cell contacts. In fully polarized cells, S285-phosphorylated JAM-A is localized exclusively at the TJs, and S285 phosphorylation of JAM-A is required for the development of a functional epithelial barrier. Protein phosphatase 2A dephosphorylates JAM-A at S285, suggesting that it antagonizes the activity of aPKC. Expression of nonphosphorylatable JAM-A/S285A interferes with single lumen specification during cyst development in three-dimensional culture. Our data suggest that aPKC phosphorylates JAM-A at S285 to regulate cell–cell contact maturation, TJ formation, and single lumen specification.
PMCID: PMC3307692  PMID: 22371556
13.  The Par-PrkC Polarity Complex Is Required for Cilia Growth in Zebrafish Photoreceptors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104661.
Specification and development of the apical membrane in epithelial cells requires the function of polarity proteins, including Pard3 and an atypical protein kinase C (PrkC). Many epithelial cells possess microtubule-based organelles, known as cilia, that project from their apical surface and the membrane surrounding the cilium is contiguous with the apical cell membrane. Although cilia formation in cultured cells required Pard3, the in vivo requirement for Pard3 in cilia development remains unknown. The vertebrate photoreceptor outer segment represents a highly specialized cilia structure in which to identify factors necessary for apical and ciliary membrane formation. Pard3 and PrkC localized to distinct domains within vertebrate photoreceptors. Using partial morpholino knockdown, photo-morpholinos, and pharmacological approaches, the function of Pard3 and PrkC were found to be required for the formation of both the apical and ciliary membrane of vertebrate photoreceptors. Inhibition of Pard3 or PrkC activity significantly reduced the size of photoreceptor outer segments and resulted in mislocalization of rhodopsin. Suppression of Pard3 or PrkC also led to a reduction in cilia size and cilia number in Kupffer’s Vesicle, which resulted in left-right asymmetry defects. Thus, the Par-PrkC complex functions in cilia formation in vivo and this likely reflects a general role in specifying non-ciliary and ciliary compartments of the apical domain.
PMCID: PMC4140697  PMID: 25144710
14.  The neuroepithelial basement membrane serves as a boundary and a substrate for neuron migration in the zebrafish hindbrain 
Neural Development  2010;5:9.
The facial branchiomotor neurons of cranial nerve VII undergo a stereotyped tangential migration in the zebrafish hindbrain that provides an ideal system for examining the complex interactions between neurons and their environment that result in directed migration. Several studies have shown the importance of the planar cell polarity pathway in facial branchiomotor neuron migration but the role of apical-basal polarity has not been determined. Here we examine the role of the PAR-aPKC complex in forming the basal structures that guide facial branchiomotor neurons on an appropriate migratory path.
High resolution timelapse imaging reveals that facial branchiomotor neurons begin their migration by moving slowly ventrally and posteriorly with their centrosomes oriented medially and then, upon contact with the Laminin-containing basement membrane at the rhombomere 4-rhombomere 5 boundary, speed up and reorient their centrosomes on the anterior-posterior axis. Disruption of the PAR-aPKC complex members aPKCλ, aPKCζ, and Pard6gb results in an ectopic ventral migration in which facial branchiomotor neurons escape from the hindbrain through holes in the Laminin-containing basement membrane. Mosaic analysis reveals that the requirement for aPKC is cell-nonautonomous, indicating that it is likely required in the surrounding polarized neuroepithelium rather than in facial motor neurons themselves. Ventral facial motor neuron ectopia can be phenocopied by mutation of lamininα1, suggesting that it is defects in maintenance of the laminin-containing basement membrane that are the likely cause of ventral mismigration in aPKCλ+ζ double morphants.
Our results suggest that the laminin-containing ventral basement membrane, dependent on the activity of the PAR-aPKC complex in the hindbrain neuroepithelium, is both a substrate for migration and a boundary that constrains facial branchiomotor neurons to the appropriate migratory path.
PMCID: PMC2857861  PMID: 20350296
15.  An Atypical PKC Directly Associates and Colocalizes at the Epithelial Tight Junction with ASIP, a Mammalian Homologue of Caenorhabditis elegans Polarity Protein PAR-3  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1998;143(1):95-106.
Cell polarity is fundamental to differentiation and function of most cells. Studies in mammalian epithelial cells have revealed that the establishment and maintenance of cell polarity depends upon cell adhesion, signaling networks, the cytoskeleton, and protein transport. Atypical protein kinase C (PKC) isotypes PKCζ and PKCλ have been implicated in signaling through lipid metabolites including phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphates, but their physiological role remains elusive. In the present study we report the identification of a protein, ASIP (atypical PKC isotype–specific interacting protein), that binds to aPKCs, and show that it colocalizes with PKCλ to the cell junctional complex in cultured epithelial MDCKII cells and rat intestinal epithelia. In addition, immunoelectron microscopy revealed that ASIP localizes to tight junctions in intestinal epithelial cells. Furthermore, ASIP shows significant sequence similarity to Caenorhabditis elegans PAR-3. PAR-3 protein is localized to the anterior periphery of the one-cell embryo, and is required for the establishment of cell polarity in early embryos. ASIP and PAR-3 share three PDZ domains, and can both bind to aPKCs. Taken together, our results suggest a role for a protein complex containing ASIP and aPKC in the establishment and/or maintenance of epithelial cell polarity. The evolutionary conservation of the protein complex and its asymmetric distribution in polarized cells from worm embryo to mammalian-differentiated cells may mean that the complex functions generally in the organization of cellular asymmetry.
PMCID: PMC2132825  PMID: 9763423
ASIP; atypical PKC; par; cell polarity; tight junction
16.  aPKC Phosphorylation of Bazooka Defines the Apical/Lateral Border in Drosophila Epithelial Cells 
Cell  2010;141(3):509-523.
Bazooka (PAR-3), PAR-6, and aPKC form a complex that plays a key role in the polarization of many cell types. In epithelial cells, however, Bazooka localizes below PAR-6 and aPKC at the apical/lateral junction. Here, we show that Baz is excluded from the apical aPKC domain in epithelia by aPKC phosphorylation, which disrupts the Baz/aPKC interaction. Removal of Baz from the complex is epithelial-specific because it also requires the Crumbs complex, which prevents the Baz/PAR-6 interaction. In the absence of Crumbs or aPKC phosphorylation of Baz, mislocalized Baz recruits adherens junction components apically, leading to a loss of the apical domain and an expansion of lateral. Thus, apical exclusion of Baz by Crumbs and aPKC defines the apical/lateral border. Although Baz acts as an aPKC targeting and specificity factor in nonepithelial cells, our results reveal that it performs a complementary function in positioning the adherens junction in epithelia.
Graphical Abstract
► aPKC phosphorylates Bazooka to prevent its binding to aPKC ► Crumbs outcompetes phospho-Baz for binding to PAR-6 in epithelial cells ► This mechanism defines the apicial/lateral boundary in epithelia ► Failure to exclude Baz from the aPKC complex disrupts epithelial morphogenesis
PMCID: PMC2885938  PMID: 20434988
17.  The MAGUK Protein MPP7 Binds to the Polarity Protein hDlg1 and Facilitates Epithelial Tight Junction Formation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(5):1744-1755.
Three groups of evolutionarily conserved proteins have been implicated in the establishment of epithelial cell polarity: the apically-localized proteins of the Par (Par3-Par6-aPKC-Cdc42) and Crumbs groups (Crb3-PALS1-PATJ) and the basolaterally localized proteins of the Dlg group (Dlg1-Scribble-Lgl). During epithelial morphogenesis, these proteins participate in a complex network of interdependent interactions that define the position and functional organization of adherens junctions and tight junctions. However, the biochemical pathways through which they control polarity are poorly understood. In this study, we identify an interaction between endogenous hDlg1 and MPP7, a previously uncharacterized MAGUK-p55 subfamily member. We find that MPP7 targets to the lateral surface of epithelial cells via its L27N domain, through an interaction with hDlg1. Loss of either hDlg1 or MPP7 from epithelial Caco-2 cells results in a significant defect in the assembly and maintenance of functional tight junctions. We conclude that the formation of a complex between hDlg1 and MPP7 promotes epithelial cell polarity and tight junction formation.
PMCID: PMC1855022  PMID: 17332497
18.  JAM-A and aPKC 
Tissue Barriers  2013;1(1):e22993.
Cell-cell adhesion plays a critical role in the formation of barrier-forming epithelia. The molecules which mediate cell-cell adhesion frequently act as signaling molecules by recruiting and/or assembling cytoplasmic protein complexes. Junctional Adhesion Molecule (JAM)-A interacts with the cell polarity protein PAR-3, a member of the PAR-3-aPKC-PAR-6 complex, which regulates the formation of cell-cell contacts and the development of tight junctions (TJs). In our recent study we found that JAM-A is localized at primordial, spot-like cell-cell junctions (pAJs) in a non-phosphorylated form. After the recruitment of the PAR-aPKC complex and its activation at pAJs, aPKC phosphorylates JAM-A at Ser285 to promote the maturation of immature junctions. In polarized epithelial cells, aPKC phosphorylates JAM-A selectively at the TJs to maintain the barrier function of TJs. Thus, through mutual regulation, JAM-A and aPKC form a functional unit that regulates the establishment of barrier-forming junctions in vertebrate epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3879182  PMID: 24665372
JAM-A; PAR complex; aPKC; cell polarity; cell-cell contact; epithelial barrier; tight junction
19.  Nucleotide Exchange Factor ECT2 Interacts with the Polarity Protein Complex Par6/Par3/Protein Kinase Cζ (PKCζ) and Regulates PKCζ Activity 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(15):6665-6675.
Regulation of cell polarity is an important biological event that governs diverse cell functions such as localization of embryonic determinants and establishment of tissue and organ architecture. The Rho family GTPases and the polarity complex Par6/Par3/atypical protein kinase C (PKC) play a key role in the signaling pathway, but the molecules that regulate upstream signaling are still not known. Here we identified the guanine nucleotide exchange factor ECT2 as an activator of the polarity complex. ECT2 interacted with Par6 as well as Par3 and PKCζ. Coexpression of Par6 and ECT2 efficiently activated Cdc42 in vivo. Overexpression of ECT2 also stimulated the PKCζ activity, whereas dominant-negative ECT2 inhibited the increase in PKCζ activity stimulated by Par6. ECT2 localization was detected at sites of cell-cell contact as well as in the nucleus of MDCK cells. The expression and localization of ECT2 were regulated by calcium, which is a critical regulator of cell-cell adhesion. Together, these results suggest that ECT2 regulates the polarity complex Par6/Par3/PKCζ and possibly plays a role in epithelial cell polarity.
PMCID: PMC444862  PMID: 15254234
20.  Par6 is phosphorylated by aPKC to facilitate EMT 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2013;7(4):357-361.
The conserved polarity proteins Par6 and aPKC regulate cell polarization processes. However, increasing evidence also suggests that they play a role in oncogenic progression. During tumor progression, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) delineates an evolutionary conserved process that converts stationary epithelial cells into mesenchymal cells, which have an acquired ability for independent migration and invasion. In addition to signaling pathways that alter genetic programes that trigger the loss of cell-cell adhesion, alternative pathways can alter cell plasticity to regulate cell-cell cohesion and increase invasive potential. One such pathway involves TGFβ-induced phosphorylation of Par6. In epithelial cells, Par6 phosphorylation results in the dissolution of junctional complexes, cytoskeletal remodelling, and increased metastatic potential. Recently, we found that aPKC can also phosphorylate Par6 to drive EMT and increase the migratory potential of non-small cell lung cancer cells. This result has implications with respect to homeostatic and developmental processes involving polarization, and also with respect to cancer progression—particularly since aPKC has been reported to be an oncogenic regulator in various tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3739812  PMID: 23880940
EMT; Par3; Par6; RhoA; Smurf1; TGFβ; aPKC; cell polarity
21.  The Rho GTPase Cdc42 is required for primary mammary epithelial cell morphogenesis in vitro 
Small GTPases  2011;2(5):247-258.
The Rho GTPase Cdc42 is overexpressed and hyperactivated in breast cancer, and several studies have described mechanisms by which it may promote tumor formation and progression. However, little is known about the role of Cdc42 during normal mammary epithelial cell (MEC) morphogenesis. Here we aimed to define the precise role for Cdc42 during primary mammary acinus formation in vitro. For these studies, MECs were isolated from Cdc42fl/fl conditional knockout mice, transduced with Adeno-cre-GFP virus to delete Cdc42 or Adeno-GFP control virus, and effects on morphogenesis were investigated using a three-dimensional (3D) culture assay. Interestingly, markedly fewer mammary acini developed in Cdc42 deficient cultures, and the acini that formed were significantly smaller and disorganized. Cellular proliferation and survival were reduced in the Cdc42 deficient acini. However, control and knockout MECs cultured as monolayers displayed similar cell cycle profiles, suggesting that Cdc42 is important for MEC proliferation in the context of 3D polarity. Overexpression of cyclin D1, which promotes cell cycle progression downstream of Cdc42, failed to rescue the defect in acinus size. Furthermore, lumen formation and apical-basal polarity were disrupted, and mitotic spindle orientation and Cdc42/aPKC polarity complex defects likely contributed to these phenotypes. Studies using dominant negative Cdc42 and siRNa to knockdown Cdc42 in MDcK and Caco-2 cell lines undergoing cystogenesis in 3D cultures revealed critical roles for Cdc42 in spindle orientation, polarity and lumen formation. Our studies, using complete knockout in primary epithelial cells, demonstrate that Cdc42 is not only an important regulator of polarity and lumen formation; it is also essential for proliferation and survival, which are key cellular processes that drive MEC morphogenesis in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3265815  PMID: 22292127
Rho GTPase; Cdc42; mammary; morphogenesis; cell polarity; proliferation; apoptosis; three-dimensional culture; epithelial cell; conditional knockout
22.  Cell Signaling by Urokinase-type Plasminogen Activator Receptor Induces Stem Cell–like Properties in Breast Cancer Cells 
Cancer research  2010;70(21):8948-8958.
Signaling by urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) can cause epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cultured breast cancer cells. In this report, we show that uPAR signaling can also induce cancer stem cell (CSC)-like properties. Ectopic overexpression of uPAR in human MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells promoted emergence of a CD24-/CD44+ phenotype, characteristic of CSCs, while increasing the cell surface abundance of integrin subunits β1/CD29 and α6/CD49f that represent putative mammary gland stem cell biomarkers. uPAR overexpression increased mammosphere formation in vitro and tumor formation in an immunocompromised SCID mouse model of orthotopic breast cancer. Hypoxic conditions that are known to induce EMT in MDA-MB-468 cells also increased cell surface β1/CD29, mimicking the effects of uPAR overexpression. Antagonizing uPAR effector signaling pathways reversed the increase in cell surface integrin expression. While uPAR overexpression did not induce EMT in MCF-7 breast cancer cells, CSC-like properties were nevertheless still induced along with an increase in tumor initiation and growth in the orthotopic setting in SCID mice. Notably, in MCF-7 cell mammospheres, which display a well-defined acinus-like structure with polarized expression of E-cadherin and β1-integrin, cell collapse into the central cavity was decreased by uPAR overexpression, suggesting that uPAR signaling may stabilize epithelial morphology. In summary, our findings demonstrate that uPAR signaling can induce CSC-like properties in breast cancer cells, either concomitantly with or separately from EMT.
PMCID: PMC2970644  PMID: 20940399
urokinase-type plasminogen activator; uPAR; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; cancer stem cell; integrin; cell-signaling
23.  Cdc42 acts downstream of Bazooka to regulate neuroblast polarity through Par-6/aPKC 
Journal of cell science  2007;120(Pt 18):3200-3206.
Cdc42 recruits Par-6/aPKC to establish cell polarity from worms to mammals. Although Cdc42 is reported to have no function in Drosophila neuroblasts, a model for cell polarity and asymmetric cell division, we show that Cdc42 colocalizes with Par-6/aPKC at the apical cortex in a Bazooka-dependent manner, and is required for Par-6/aPKC localization. Loss of Cdc42 disrupts neuroblast polarity: cdc42 mutant neuroblasts have cytoplasmic Par-6/aPKC, and this phenotype is mimicked by neuroblast-specific expression of a dominant-negative Cdc42 protein or a Par-6 protein that lacks Cdc42 binding ability. Conversely, expression of constitutively active Cdc42 leads to ectopic Par-6/aPKC localization and corresponding cell polarity defects. Bazooka remains apically enriched in cdc42 mutants. Robust Cdc42 localization requires Par-6, indicating the presence of feedback in this pathway. In addition to regulating Par-6/aPKC localization, Cdc42 increases aPKC activity by relieving Par-6 inhibition. We conclude that Cdc42 regulates aPKC localization and activity downstream of Bazooka, thereby directing neuroblast cell polarity and asymmetric cell division.
PMCID: PMC1988841  PMID: 17726059
24.  Phenotypical Analysis of Atypical PKCs In Vivo Function Display a Compensatory System at Mouse Embryonic Day 7.5 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62756.
The atypical protein kinases C (PKC) isoforms ι/λ and ζ play crucial roles in many cellular processes including development, cell proliferation, differentiation and cell survival. Possible redundancy between the two isoforms has always been an issue since most biochemical tools do not differentiate between the two proteins. Thus, much effort has been made during the last decades to characterize the functions of aPKCs using gene targeting approaches and depletion studies. However, little is known about the specific roles of each isoform in mouse development.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To evaluate the importance of PKCι in mouse development we designed PKCι deletion mutants using the gene targeting approach. We show that the deletion of PKCι, results in a reduced size of the amniotic cavity at E7.5 and impaired growth of the embryo at E8.5 with subsequent absorption of the embryo. Our data also indicate an impaired localization of ZO-1 and disorganized structure of the epithelial tissue in the embryo. Importantly, using electron microscopy, embryoid body formation and immunofluorescence analysis, we found, that in the absence of PKCι, tight junctions and apico-basal polarity were still established. Finally, our study points to a non-redundant PKCι function at E9.5, since expression of PKCζ is able to rescue the E7.5 phenotype, but could not prevent embryonic lethality at a later time-point (E9.5).
Our data show that PKCι is crucial for mouse embryogenesis but is dispensable for the establishment of polarity and tight junction formation. We present a compensatory function of PKCζ at E7.5, rescuing the phenotype. Furthermore, this study indicates at least one specific, yet unknown, PKCι function that cannot be compensated by the overexpression of PKCζ at E9.5.
PMCID: PMC3653893  PMID: 23690951
25.  Contribution of different segments of the par region to stable maintenance of the broad-host-range plasmid RK2. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(20):6472-6479.
A 3.2-kb region of the broad-host-range plasmid RK2 has been shown to encode a highly efficient plasmid maintenance system that functions in a vector-independent manner. This region, designated par, consists of two divergently arranged operons: parCBA and parDE. The 0.7-kb parDE operon promotes plasmid stability by a postsegregational killing mechanism that ensures that plasmid-free daughter cells do not survive after cell division. The 2.3-kb parCBA operon encodes a site-specific resolvase protein (ParA) and its multimer resolution site (res) and two proteins (ParB and ParC) whose functions are as yet unknown. It has been proposed that the parCBA operon encodes a plasmid partitioning system (M. Gerlitz, O. Hrabak, and H. Schwabb, J. Bacteriol. 172:6194-6203, 1990; R. C. Roberts, R. Burioni, and D. R. Helinski, J. Bacteriol. 172:6204-6216, 1990). To further define the role of this region in promoting the stable maintenance of plasmid RK2, the parCBA and parDE operons separately and the intact (parCBA/DE) par region (3.2 kb) were reintroduced into an RK2 plasmid deleted for par and assayed for plasmid stability in two Escherichia coli strains (MC1061K and MV10delta lac). The intact 3.2-kb region provided the highest degree of stability in the two strains tested. The ability of the parCBA or parDE region alone to promote stable maintenance in the E. coli strains was dependent on the particular strain and the growth temperature. Furthermore, the insertion of the ColE1 cer site into the RK2 plasmid deleted for the par region failed to stabilize the plasmid in the MC1061K strain, indicating that the multimer resolution activity encoded by parCBA is not by itself responsible for the stabilization activity observed for this operon. To examine the relative contributions of postsegregational cell killing and a possible partitioning function encoded by the intact 3.2-kb par region, stability assays were carried out with ParD provided in trans by a compatible (R6K) minireplicon to prevent postsegregational killing. In E. coli MV10delta lac, postsegregational killing appeared to be the predominant mechanism for stabilization since the presence of ParD substantially reduced the stability of plasmids carrying either the 3.2- or 0.7-kb region. However, in the case of E. coli MC1061K, the presence of ParD in trans did not result in a significant loss of stabilization by the 3.2-kb region, indicating that the putative partitioning function was largely responsible for RK2 maintenance. To examine the basis for the apparent differences in postsegregational killing between the two E. coli strains, transformation assays were carried out to determine the relative sensitivities of the strains to the ParE toxin protein. Consistent with the relatively small contribution of the postsegregational killing to plasmid stabilization in MC1061K, we found that this strain was substantially more resistant to killing by ParE in comparison to E. coli MV10delta lac. A transfer-deficient mutant of thepar-deleted plasmid was constructed for the stable maintenance studies. This plasmid was found to be lost from E. coli MV10delta lac at a rate three times greater than the rate for the transfer-proficient plasmid, suggesting that conjugation can also play a significant role in the maintenance of plasmid RK2.
PMCID: PMC179565  PMID: 9335298

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