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Science 320 (5884): 1771-1774

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Polarization of the C. elegans Embryo by RhoGAP-Mediated Exclusion of PAR-6 from Cell Contacts

Dorian C. Anderson, Jason S. Gill,* Ryan M. Cinalli,* Jeremy Nance{dagger}

Abstract: Early embryos of some metazoans polarize radially to facilitate critical patterning events such as gastrulation and asymmetric cell division; however, little is known about how radial polarity is established. Early embryos of Caenorhabditis elegans polarize radially when cell contacts restrict the polarity protein PAR-6 to contact-free cell surfaces, where PAR-6 regulates gastrulation movements. We have identified a Rho guanosine triphosphatase activating protein (RhoGAP), PAC-1, which mediates C. elegans radial polarity and gastrulation by excluding PAR-6 from contacted cell surfaces. We show that PAC-1 is recruited to cell contacts, and we suggest that PAC-1 controls radial polarity by restricting active CDC-42 to contact-free surfaces, where CDC-42 binds and recruits PAR-6. Thus, PAC-1 provides a dynamic molecular link between cell contacts and PAR proteins that polarizes embryos radially.

Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine of the Skirball Institute, New York University School of Medicine, 540 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: nance{at}saturn.med.nyu.edu


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