The mechanisms by which cells become polarised in the plane of an epithelium have been studied in Drosophila for many years. Work has focussed on two key questions: firstly, how individual cells adopt a defined polarity, and secondly how the polarity of each cell within a tissue is aligned with its neighbours. It has been established that asymmetric subcellular localisation of a number of polarity proteins is an essential mechanism underlying polarisation of single cells. The process by which this polarity is coordinated between cells however is less well understood, but is thought to involve gradients of activity of the atypical cadherins Dachsous and Fat. Subsequently, this long-range polarity signal is refined by local cell-cell interactions involving the transmembrane molecules Frizzled, Strabismus and Flamingo. The role of these factors in coordinating polarity will be discussed.
(c) 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.