The frizzled/starry night pathway regulates planar cell polarity in a wide variety of tissues in many types of animals. It was discovered and has been most intensively studied in the Drosophila wing where it controls the formation of the array of distally pointing hairs that cover the wing. The pathway does this by restricting the activation of the cytoskeleton to the distal edge of wing cells. This results in hairs initiating at the distal edge and growing in the distal direction. All of the proteins encoded by genes in the pathway accumulate asymmetrically in wing cells. The pathway is a hierarchy with the Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) genes (aka the core genes) functioning as a group upstream of the Planar Polarity Effector (PPE) genes which in turn function as a group upstream of multiple wing hairs. Upstream proteins, such as Frizzled accumulate on either the distal and/or proximal edges of wing cells. Downstream PPE proteins accumulate on the proximal edge under the instruction of the upstream proteins. A variety of types of data support this hierarchy, however, we have found that when over expressed the PPE proteins can alter both the subcellular location and level of accumulation of the upstream proteins. Thus, the epistatic relationship is context dependent. We further show that the PPE proteins interact physically and can modulate the accumulation of each other in wing cells. We also find that over expression of Frtz results in a marked delay in hair initiation suggesting that it has a separate role/activity in regulating the cytoskeleton that is not shared by other members of the group.
Keywords: Drosophila; Planar Cell Polarity; Planar cell polarity effectors; Protein interactions; Wing.
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