More diversity in epithelial cell polarity: A fruit flies’ gut feeling

by H-Arno J. Müller

Multicellular animals face the principle challenge to deal with two distinct compartments: the internal organismal compartment and the external environment. This challenge is met by the differentiation of cell sheets into epithelia, which provide a dynamic barrier in tissues, organs, and organisms. Cell polarity is key to all functions of epithelia, and compromising polarity causes many severe diseases. Within the past 20 years, research on Drosophila melanogaster discovered a conserved molecular machinery that controls epithelial polarity. Recent findings suggest that the textbook Drosophila-based paradigm of the control of epithelial polarity may not be as universal as previously assumed.

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