The apical polarity protein network in Drosophila epithelial cells: regulation of polarity, junctions, morphogenesis, cell growth, and survival

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2012;28:655-85. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-092910-154033. Epub 2012 Aug 6.


Epithelial tissue formation and function requires the apical-basal polarization of individual epithelial cells. Apical polarity regulators (APRs) are an evolutionarily conserved group of key factors that govern polarity and several other aspects of epithelial differentiation. APRs compose a diverse set of molecules including a transmembrane protein (Crumbs), a serine/threonine kinase (aPKC), a lipid phosphatase (PTEN), a small GTPase (Cdc42), FERM domain proteins (Moesin, Yurt), and several adaptor or scaffolding proteins (Bazooka/Par3, Par6, Stardust, Patj). These proteins form a dynamic cooperative network that is engaged in negative-feedback regulation with basolateral polarity factors to set up the epithelial apical-basal axis. APRs support the formation of the apical junctional complex and the segregation of the junctional domain from the apical membrane. It is becoming increasingly clear that APRs interact with the cytoskeleton and vesicle trafficking machinery, regulate morphogenesis, and modulate epithelial cell growth and survival. Not surprisingly, APRs have multiple fundamental links to human diseases such as cancer and blindness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / chemistry
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila / cytology*
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Morphogenesis


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins