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Development. 2012 Jun;139(11):2061-70. doi: 10.1242/dev.076711. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

AP-1 is required for the maintenance of apico-basal polarity in the C. elegans intestine.

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INSERM Avenir Group, F-35043 Rennes, France.


Epithelial tubes perform functions that are essential for the survival of multicellular organisms. Understanding how their polarised features are maintained is therefore crucial. By analysing the function of the clathrin adaptor AP-1 in the C. elegans intestine, we found that AP-1 is required for epithelial polarity maintenance. Depletion of AP-1 subunits does not affect epithelial polarity establishment or the formation of the intestinal lumen. However, the loss of AP-1 affects the polarised distribution of both apical and basolateral transmembrane proteins. Moreover, it triggers de novo formation of ectopic apical lumens between intestinal cells along the lateral membranes later during embryogenesis. We also found that AP-1 is specifically required for the apical localisation of the small GTPase CDC-42 and the polarity determinant PAR-6. Our results demonstrate that AP-1 controls an apical trafficking pathway required for the maintenance of epithelial polarity in vivo in a tubular epithelium.

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