Actin and microtubules drive differential aspects of planar cell polarity in multiciliated cells

J Cell Biol. 2011 Oct 3;195(1):19-26. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201106110. Epub 2011 Sep 26.


Planar cell polarization represents the ability of cells to orient within the plane of a tissue orthogonal to the apical basal axis. The proper polarized function of multiciliated cells requires the coordination of cilia spacing and cilia polarity as well as the timing of cilia beating during metachronal synchrony. The planar cell polarity pathway and hydrodynamic forces have been shown to instruct cilia polarity. In this paper, we show how intracellular effectors interpret polarity to organize cellular morphology in accordance with asymmetric cellular function. We observe that both cellular actin and microtubule networks undergo drastic reorganization, providing differential roles during the polarized organization of cilia. Using computational angular correlation analysis of cilia orientation, we report a graded cellular organization downstream of cell polarity cues. Actin dynamics are required for proper cilia spacing, global coordination of cilia polarity, and coordination of metachronic cilia beating, whereas cytoplasmic microtubule dynamics are required for local coordination of polarity between neighboring cilia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Cilia / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Xenopus Proteins / metabolism*
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Actins
  • Xenopus Proteins