From A to Z: apical structures and zona pellucida-domain proteins

Trends Cell Biol. 2010 Sep;20(9):524-32. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2010.06.002. Epub 2010 Jul 1.


The terminal differentiation of epithelial cells involves changes in the apical compartment, including remodeling of the cytoskeleton and junctions to modify its three-dimensional organization. It also often triggers the building of specialized extracellular matrices, the function of which remains poorly understood. Hundreds of extracellular matrix proteins expressed in a variety of epithelia possess a conserved region called the zona pellucida-domain (ZP domain). There is evidence to suggest that ZP-domains mediate the polymerization of proteins into fibrils or matrices and that mutation of ZP-domains can result in severe pathologies, such as infertility, deafness, and cancer. Recent work in worms and flies demonstrates that ZP-domain proteins play a crucial role in organizing and shaping highly specialized apical structures in epithelial cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / chemistry*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Intercellular Junctions
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Zona Pellucida / chemistry
  • Zona Pellucida / metabolism


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins