Cell Biology

Go with the Flow

Science Signaling  29 Nov 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 201, pp. ec336
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4201ec336

Polarization in Caenorhabditis elegans zygotes is a prime example of coupling pattern-forming biochemical networks with mechanical processes for enacting morphologic change. However, despite 20 years of research on the partitioning-defective (PAR) polarity proteins, we still do not understand the underlying mechanistic basis of this mechanochemical coupling or PAR polarization. Through quantitative experiments and modeling, Goehring et al. show that passive advection by actively generated fluid flow is sufficient to drive asymmetry of PAR proteins and thereby can act as a trigger for pattern formation.

N. W. Goehring, P. Khuc Trong, J. S. Bois, D. Chowdhury, E. M. Nicola, A. A. Hyman, S. W. Grill, Polarization of PAR proteins by advective triggering of a pattern-forming system. Science 334, 1137–1141 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]