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Dev Cell. 2006 Feb;10(2):199-208.

Stabilization of cell polarity by the C. elegans RING protein PAR-2.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Asymmetric localization of PAR proteins is a hallmark of polarized cells, but the mechanisms that create PAR asymmetry are not well understood. In the C. elegans zygote, PAR asymmetry is initiated by a transient actomyosin contraction, which sweeps the PAR-3/PAR-6/PKC-3 complex toward the anterior pole of the egg. The RING finger protein PAR-2 accumulates in a complementary pattern in the posterior cortex. Here we present evidence that PAR-2 participates in a feedback loop to stabilize polarity. PAR-2 is a target of the PKC-3 kinase and is excluded from the anterior cortex by PKC-3-dependent phosphorylation. The RING domain of PAR-2 is required to overcome inhibition by PKC-3 and stabilize PAR-2 on the posterior cortex. Cortical PAR-2 in turn prevents PAR-3/PAR-6/PKC-3 from returning to the posterior, in a PAR-1- and PAR-5-dependent manner. Our findings suggest that reciprocal inhibitory interactions among PAR proteins stabilize polarity by reinforcing an initial asymmetry in PKC-3.

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