Directing the orientation of cells in three dimensions is a fundamental aspect of many of the processes underlying the generation of the appropriate shape and function of tissues and organs during embryonic development. In an epithelium, this requires not only the establishment of apicobasal polarity, but also cell arrangement in a specific direction in the plane of the cell sheet. The molecular pathway central to regulating this planar cell polarity (PCP) was originally discovered in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and has more recently been shown to act in a highly analogous way in vertebrates, involving a strongly overlapping set of genes. Mutant studies and molecular analyses have led to insights into the role of ordered planar cell polarity in the development of a wide variety of organs and tissues. In this review, we give an overview of recent developments in the study of planar polarity signaling in vertebrates.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.