Regulation of cell polarity during epithelial morphogenesis

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2008 Apr;20(2):227-34. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Feb 20.


Epithelial cells have an apical surface facing a lumen or outside of the organism, and a basolateral surface facing other cells and extracellular matrix. The identity of the apical surface is determined by phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, while phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphophosphate determines the identity of the basolateral surface. The Par3/Par6/atypical protein kinase C complex, as well as the Crumbs and Scribble complexes, controls epithelial polarity. Par4 and AMP kinase regulate polarity during conditions of energy depletion. Lumens are formed in hollow cysts and tubules by fusions of apical vesicles, such as the vacuolar apical compartment, with the plasma membrane. The polarity of individual cells is oriented and coordinated with other cells by interactions with the extracellular matrix.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Epithelium / embryology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis*