Interactions between the crumbs, lethal giant larvae and bazooka pathways in epithelial polarization

Nat Cell Biol. 2003 Jan;5(1):46-52. doi: 10.1038/ncb896.


Several protein complexes that are involved in epithelial apicobasal polarity have been identified. However, the mechanism by which these complexes interact to form an integrated polarized cell morphology remains unclear. Crumbs (Crb) and Lethal giant larvae (Lgl) are components of distinct complexes that regulate epithelial polarization in Drosophila melanogaster, but may not interact directly as they localize to the apical and basolateral membrane, respectively. Nevertheless, a genetic screen identifies marked functional interactions between crb and lgl. These interactions extend to other genes within the crb (stardust, sdt) and lgl (discs large, dlg; scribble, scrib) pathways. Our findings suggest that the crb and lgl pathways function competitively to define apical and basolateral surfaces. They also suggest that in the absence of lgl pathway activity, the crb pathway is not required to maintain epithelial polarity. Moreover, we show that crb and lgl cooperate in zonula adherens formation early in development. At later stages, epithelial cells in these mutants acquire normal polarity, indicating the presence of compensatory mechanisms. We find that bazooka (baz) functions redundantly with crb/sdt to support apical polarity at mid- to late-embryogenesis. Despite regaining cell polarity, however, epithelial cells in crb and lgl pathway mutants fail to re-establish normal overall tissue architecture, indicating that the timely acquisition of polarized cell structure is essential for normal tissue organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Larva
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • crb protein, Drosophila
  • l(2)gl protein, Drosophila