Apical-basal polarity is a basic organizing principle of epithelial cells. Consequently, defects in polarity are associated with numerous human pathologies, including many forms of cancer. Recent work in Drosophila has identified novel roles for, or has greatly enhanced our understanding of, functional modules within the epithelial polarity network. A series of recent papers have highlighted the key function of the scaffolding protein Bazooka/Par3 as an early polarity landmark, and its crucial role in dynamic segregation of the apical membrane from the adherens junction. Moreover, novel polarity modules have recently been discovered; the Yurt/Coracle group supports the basolateral membrane during a defined time window of development, while a second module, including the kinases LKB1 and AMP-activated protein kinase, is required for polarity when epithelial cells experience metabolic stress. These new findings emphasize unforeseen complexities in the regulation of epithelial polarity, and raise new questions about the mechanisms of epithelial tissue organization and function.
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