Note to users. If you're seeing this message, it means that your browser cannot find this page's style/presentation instructions -- or possibly that you are using a browser that does not support current Web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing, and what you can do to make your experience of our site the best it can be.


Logo for

PNAS 105 (48): 18800-18805

Copyright © 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences.


Cell packing influences planar cell polarity signaling

Dali Maa,1, Keith Amonlirdvimanb,1, Robin L. Raffardb,1, Alessandro Abateb,c, Claire J. Tomlinb,c, and Jeffrey D. Axelroda,2

aDepartment of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5324; bDepartment of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; and cDepartment of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-4035

Communicated by A. Dale Kaiser, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, September 23, 2008

Received for publication August 2, 2008.

Abstract: Some epithelial cells display asymmetry along an axis orthogonal to the apical-basal axis, referred to as planar cell polarity (PCP). A Frizzled-mediated feedback loop coordinates PCP between neighboring cells, and the cadherin Fat transduces a global directional cue that orients PCP with respect to the tissue axes. The feedback loop can propagate polarity across clones of cells that lack the global directional signal, although this polarity propagation is error prone. Here, we show that, in the Drosophila wing, a combination of cell geometry and nonautonomous signaling at clone boundaries determines the correct or incorrect polarity propagation in clones that lack Fat mediated global directional information. Pattern elements, such as veins, and sporadic occurrences of irregular geometry are obstacles to polarity propagation. Hence, in the wild type, broad distribution of the global directional cue combines with a local feedback mechanism to overcome irregularities in cell packing geometry during PCP signaling.

Key Words: cell shape • Fat • Frizzled • feedback • mathematical model

Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.

Author contributions: D.M., K.A., R.L.R., C.J.T., and J.D.A. designed research; D.M., K.A., R.L.R., and A.A. performed research; D.M., K.A., R.L.R., and A.A. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; D.M., K.A., R.L.R., A.A., C.J.T., and J.D.A. analyzed data; and D.M., K.A., R.L.R., C.J.T., and J.D.A. wrote the paper.

1D.M., K.A., and R.L.R. contributed equally to this work.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This article contains supporting information online at

2To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jaxelrod{at}

© 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA

Regulation of PCP by the Fat signaling pathway.
M. Matis and J. D. Axelrod (2013)
Genes & Dev. 27, 2207-2220
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The mechanical anisotropy in a tissue promotes ordering in hexagonal cell packing.
K. Sugimura and S. Ishihara (2013)
Development 140, 4091-4101
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Mechanics of Epithelial Tissue Homeostasis and Morphogenesis.
C. Guillot and T. Lecuit (2013)
Science 340, 1185-1189
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
An intracellular partitioning-based framework for tissue cell polarity in plants and animals.
K. Abley, P. B. De Reuille, D. Strutt, A. Bangham, P. Prusinkiewicz, A. F. M. Maree, V. A. Grieneisen, and E. Coen (2013)
Development 140, 2061-2074
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Computational Approaches to Developmental Patterning.
L. G. Morelli, K. Uriu, S. Ares, and A. C. Oates (2012)
Science 336, 187-191
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Principles of planar polarity in animal development.
L. V. Goodrich and D. Strutt (2011)
Development 138, 1877-1892
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Drosophila Rab23 Is Involved in the Regulation of the Number and Planar Polarization of the Adult Cuticular Hairs.
C. Pataki, T. Matusek, E. Kurucz, I. Ando, A. Jenny, and J. Mihaly (2010)
Genetics 184, 1051-1065
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

To Advertise     Find Products

Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882