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Development. 2012 Mar;139(5):968-78. doi: 10.1242/dev.065326.

Regulation of cochlear convergent extension by the vertebrate planar cell polarity pathway is dependent on p120-catenin.

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Department of Cell Biology, Emory University, 615 Michael Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


The vertebrate planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway consists of conserved PCP and ciliary genes. During development, the PCP pathway regulates convergent extension (CE) and uniform orientation of sensory hair cells in the cochlea. It is not clear how these diverse morphogenetic processes are regulated by a common set of PCP genes. Here, we show that cellular contacts and geometry change drastically and that the dynamic expression of N-cadherin and E-cadherin demarcates sharp boundaries during cochlear extension. The conditional knockout of a component of the adherens junctions, p120-catenin, leads to the reduction of E-cadherin and N-cadherin and to characteristic cochlear CE defects but not misorientation of hair cells. The specific CE defects in p120-catenin mutants are in contrast to associated CE and hair cell misorientation defects observed in common PCP gene mutants. Moreover, the loss-of-function of a conserved PCP gene, Vangl2, alters the dynamic distribution of N-cadherin and E-cadherin in the cochlea and causes similar abnormalities in cellular morphology to those found in p120-catenin mutants. Conversely, we found that Pcdh15 interacts genetically with PCP genes to regulate the formation of polar hair bundles, but not CE defects in the cochlea. Together, these results indicate that the vertebrate PCP pathway regulates CE and hair cell polarity independently and that a p120-catenin-dependent mechanism regulates CE of the cochlea.

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