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Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2009 Jan 1;14:2149-69.

Crumbs proteins in epithelial morphogenesis.

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Institut de Biologie du Developpement de Marseille-Luminy, CNRS UMR 6216 et Universite de la Mediterranee, Parc Scientifique et Technologique de Luminy, Case 907, 13288 Marseille Cedex 09, France.


Cell polarity is an essential feature of most eukaryotic cells, especially epithelial cells in multicellular animals. Polarity protein complexes that regulate epithelial organization have been identified. In this review, it is proposed to describe how the Crumbs complex acts in the process of cell polarity and epithelial organization. During the last decade, several partners of Crumbs, an apical transmembrane protein, have been identified and their direct or indirect associations with the cytoplasmic domain of Crumbs have been dissected. In addition, mutants of several of the genes encoding proteins belonging to the Crumbs network have been obtained in animals ranging from flies to mouse, which have led to a better understanding of their functions in vivo. These functions include polarity axis formation, stabilization of epithelial apico-lateral junctions, photoreceptor organization and ciliogenesis. Since human CRUMBS1 mutations are associated with retina degeneration, it has become essential to define Crumbs network and to understand exactly how this network acts in polarized cells, with a view to developing suitable therapeutic approaches for treating this severe degenerative disease.

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