Involvement of the membrane-cytoskeleton in development of epithelial cell polarity

Semin Cell Biol. 1990 Oct;1(5):359-71.


The generation of cell surface polarity in transporting epithelial cells occurs in three distinct stages that involve cell-cell recognition and adhesion, cell surface remodelling to form biochemically and functionally distinct cell surface domains, and development of vectorial function. A widely used model system to study mechanisms involved in these stages is the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell line. Under appropriate growth conditions, MDCK cells develop in similar stages into polarized, multicellular epithelial structures. Analysis of membrane-cytoskeletal proteins ankyrin and fodrin during development of MDCK cell surface polarity shows that they gradually assemble into an insoluble protein complex on the basal-lateral membrane domain upon cell-cell adhesion, concomitantly with the redistribution of Na+,K(+)-ATPase, a marker protein of the basal-lateral membrane. Biochemical analysis shows that ankyrin, fodrin occur in a complex with Na+,K(+)-ATPase and the cell adhesion molecule uvomorulin in MDCK cells. A model is presented in which assembly of membrane-cytoskeletal complexes at sites of uvomorulin-induced cell-cell contact causes a remodelling of the cell surface distribution of specific membrane proteins which, in turn, contributes to the generation of epithelial cell surface polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ankyrins
  • Blood Proteins / physiology
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Epithelial Cells*
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Microfilament Proteins / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Ankyrins
  • Blood Proteins
  • Cadherins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • fodrin
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase