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Dev Biol. 2003 Jan 1;253(1):54-65.

PAR-1 is required for morphogenesis of the Caenorhabditis elegans vulva.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14580, USA.


The Caenorhabditis elegans vulva provides a simple model for the genetic analysis of pattern formation and organ morphogenesis during metazoan development. We have discovered an essential role for the polarity protein PAR-1 in the development of the vulva. Postembryonic RNA interference of PAR-1 causes a protruding vulva phenotype. We found that depleting PAR-1 during the development of the vulva has no detectable effect on fate specification or precursor proliferation, but instead seems to specifically alter morphogenesis. Using an apical junction-associated GFP marker, we discovered that PAR-1 depletion causes a failure of the two mirror-symmetric halves of the vulva to join into a single, coherent organ. The cells that normally form the ventral vulval rings fail to make contact or adhere and consequently form incomplete toroids, and dorsal rings adopt variably abnormal morphologies. We also found that PAR-1 undergoes a redistribution from apical junctions to basolateral domains during morphogenesis. Despite a known role for PAR-1 in cell polarity, we have observed no detectable differences in the distribution of various markers of epithelial cell polarity. We propose that PAR-1 activity at the cell cortex is critical for mediating cell shape changes, cell surface composition, or cell signaling during vulval morphogenesis.

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