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J Neurosci. 2009 Sep 16;29(37):11426-40. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1880-09.2009.

Stepwise maturation of apicobasal polarity of the neuroepithelium is essential for vertebrate neurulation.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


During vertebrate neurulation, extensive cell movements transform the flat neural plate into the neural tube. This dynamic morphogenesis requires the tissue to bear a certain amount of plasticity to accommodate shape and position changes of individual cells as well as intercellular cohesiveness to maintain tissue integrity and architecture. For most of the neural plate-neural tube transition, cells are polarized along the apicobasal axis. The establishment and maintenance of this polarity requires many polarity proteins that mediate cell-cell adhesion either directly or indirectly. Intercellular adhesion reduces tissue plasticity and enhances tissue integrity. However, it remains unclear how apicobasal polarity is regulated to meet the opposing needs for tissue plasticity and tissue integrity during neurulation. Here, we show that N-Cad/ZO-1 complex-initiated apicobasal polarity is stabilized by the late-onsetting Lin7c/Nok complex after the extensive morphogenetic cell movements in neurulation. Loss of either N-Cad or Lin7c disrupts neural tube formation. Furthermore, precocious overexpression of Lin7c induces multiaxial mirror symmetry in zebrafish neurulation. Our data suggest that stepwise maturation of apicobasal polarity plays an essential role in vertebrate neurulation.

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