PAR-6 is required for junction formation but not apicobasal polarization in C. elegans embryonic epithelial cells

Development. 2007 Apr;134(7):1259-68. doi: 10.1242/dev.02833. Epub 2007 Feb 21.


Epithelial cells perform important roles in the formation and function of organs and the genesis of many solid tumors. A distinguishing feature of epithelial cells is their apicobasal polarity and the presence of apical junctions that link cells together. The interacting proteins Par-6 (a PDZ and CRIB domain protein) and aPKC (an atypical protein kinase C) localize apically in fly and mammalian epithelial cells and are important for apicobasal polarity and junction formation. Caenorhabditis elegans PAR-6 and PKC-3/aPKC also localize apically in epithelial cells, but a role for these proteins in polarizing epithelial cells or forming junctions has not been described. Here, we use a targeted protein degradation strategy to remove both maternal and zygotic PAR-6 from C. elegans embryos before epithelial cells are born. We find that PKC-3 does not localize asymmetrically in epithelial cells lacking PAR-6, apical junctions are fragmented, and epithelial cells lose adhesion with one another. Surprisingly, junction proteins still localize apically, indicating that PAR-6 and asymmetric PKC-3 are not needed for epithelial cells to polarize. Thus, whereas the role of PAR-6 in junction formation appears to be widely conserved, PAR-6-independent mechanisms can be used to polarize epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Transgenes / genetics


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • par-6 protein, C elegans
  • PKC-3 protein
  • Protein Kinase C