Drosophila has been the key model system for studies on planar cell polarity (PCP). The rich morphology of the insect exoskeleton contains many structures that display PCP. Among these are the trichomes (cuticular hairs) that cover much of the exoskeleton, sensory bristles, and ommatidia. Many genes have been identified that must function for the development of normal PCP. Among these are the genes that comprise the frizzled/starry night (fz/stan) and dachsous/fat pathways. The mechanisms that underlie the function of the fz/stan pathway are best understood. All of the protein products of these genes accumulate asymmetrically in wing cells and there is good evidence that this involves local intercellular signaling between protein complexes on the distal edge of one cell and the juxtaposed proximal edge of its neighbor. It is thought that a feedback system, directed transport, and stabilizing protein-protein interactions mediate the formation of distal and proximal protein complexes. These complexes appear to recruit downstream proteins that function to spatially restrict the activation of the cytoskeleton in wing cells. This leads to the formation of the array of distally pointing hairs found on wings.
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