Epithelia form sheets of interconnected cells that are polarized along an apical-basal axis and perform selective exchange and barrier functions. Epithelia are dynamic structures that undergo remodeling associated with cell shape changes and neighbor exchange. The fly embryo provides an outstanding model system to study how epithelia form and change shape during morphogenesis. The developmental programs that regulate morphogenetic changes have been best studied in fly epithelia. In recent work, we have discovered that the conserved E3 ubiquitin ligase Neuralized (which is best known for its role in Notch signaling) regulate epithelial morphogenesis in various developmental settings, including gastrulation and trans-epithelial migration. Our current work focuses on deciphering the role of Neuralized during gastrulation and on identifying its molecular targets.
Figure (right): cross section view of a gastrulating embryo showing ventral cells (bottom) undergoing apical constriction, forming a ventral furrow (red: myosin; blue: nuclei; green: cell-cell junctions)
Movie (left): top view showing ventral cells undergoing apical constriction and invagination (live imaging of an embryo expressing a GFP-tagged membrane marker)
S. Chanet and F. Schweisguth (2012) Regulation of epithelial polarity by the E3 ubiquitin ligase Neuralized and the Bearded inhibitors in Drosophila. Nature Cell Biology, 14, 467-76