Flamingo controls the planar polarity of sensory bristles and asymmetric division of sensory organ precursors in Drosophila

Curr Biol. 1999 Nov 4;9(21):1247-50. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(99)80505-3.


The sensory bristles of the fruit fly Drosophila are organized in a polarized fashion such that bristles on the thorax point posteriorly. These bristles are derived from asymmetric division of sensory organ precursors (SOPs). The Numb protein, which is localized asymmetrically in a cortical crescent in each SOP, segregates into only one of the two daughter cells during cell division, thereby conferring distinct fates to the daughter cells [1] [2]. In neuroblasts, establishment of apical-basal polarity by the protein Inscuteable is crucial for orienting asymmetric division, but this is not the case for division of SOPs [3]. Instead, the Frizzled (Fz) protein mediates a planar polarity signal that controls the anteroposteriorly oriented first division (pl) of SOPs [4]. Here, we report that Flamingo (Fmi), a seven-transmembrane cadherin [5], controls the planar polarity of sensory bristles and the orientation of the SOP pl division. Both the loss of function and overexpression of fmi disrupted bristle polarity. During mitosis of the SOP, the axis of the pl division and the positioning of the Numb crescent were randomized in the absence of Fmi activity. Overexpression of Fmi and Fz caused similar effects. The dependence of proper Fmi localization on Fz activity suggests that Fmi functions downstream of Fz in controlling planar polarity. We also present evidence suggesting that Fz also functions in the Wingless pathway to pattern sensory organs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology
  • Cadherins / biosynthesis
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Juvenile Hormones / metabolism
  • Sense Organs / physiology


  • Cadherins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Juvenile Hormones
  • numb protein, Drosophila
  • stan protein, Drosophila