We cloned Xenopus Strabismus (Xstbm), a homologue of the Drosophila planar cell or tissue polarity gene. Xstbm encodes four transmembrane domains in its N-terminal half and a PDZ-binding motif in its C-terminal region, a structure similar to Drosophila and mouse homologues. Xstbm is expressed strongly in the deep cells of the anterior neural plate and at lower levels in the posterior notochordal and neural regions during convergent extension. Overexpression of Xstbm inhibits convergent extension of mesodermal and neural tissues, as well as neural tube closure, without direct effects on tissue differentiation. Expression of Xstbm(DeltaPDZ-B), which lacks the PDZ-binding region of Xstbm, inhibits convergent extension when expressed alone but rescues the effect of overexpressing Xstbm, suggesting that Xstbm(DeltaPDZ-B) acts as a dominant negative and that both increase and decrease of Xstbm function from an optimum retards convergence and extension. Recordings show that cells expressing Xstbm or Xstbm(DeltaPDZ-B) fail to acquire the polarized protrusive activity underlying normal cell intercalation during convergent extension of both mesodermal and neural and that this effect is population size-dependent. These results further characterize the role of Xstbm in regulating the cell polarity driving convergence and extension in Xenopus.
(c) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).