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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jan 8;105(1):335-40. Epub 2007 Dec 27.

Instructive role of aPKCzeta subcellular localization in the assembly of adherens junctions in neural progenitors.

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  • 1Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and Gene Expression Laboratory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


In the neurogenic phase of CNS development, the proliferating progenitors are found medially within the neuroepithelium. The adherens junctions on the apical membrane of proliferating neural progenitors allow for cell-cell adhesion and medial stratification. In contrast, differentiating neuronal precursors delaminate and migrate laterally, establishing the laminar layers. Apical adherens junctions also establish the apical-basal polarity in neural progenitors, which in turn is postulated to lead to asymmetric inheritance of cell fate determinants during neurogenic divisions. The signaling pathways and cellular mechanisms that regulate the assembly and asymmetric localization of adherens junctions in neural progenitors remain elusive. Here we show that atypical PKCzeta/lambda (aPKCzeta/lambda) localizes at the apical membrane of proliferating neural stem cells, but not postmitotic neuronal precursors, in the developing chicken neural tube. This precise subcellular compartmentalization of the kinase activity provides an instructive signal for apical assembly of adherens junctions in a PI3K, Rac/Cdc42 signaling-dependent pathway. Apical aPKCzeta coordinates neural stem cell proliferation and the overall stratification of cell types within the neural tube.

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