Until now, scientists assumed that these two poles develop in all epithelial cells in the same manner - irrespective of whether they are located in the heart, in the retina, or in the nervous system. Now, Dr. Nana Bit-Avragim, Dr. Nicole Hellwig, and Dr. Salim Abdelilah-Seyfried have shown that, depending on the tissue, a different variation of a complex consisting of five core proteins is active and orientates the epithelial cells. The results of the MDC scientists have now been published in the Journal of Cell Science (2008, Vol. 121, pp. 2503-2510)*.
Scientists worldwide use zebrafish to study the development of vertebrates, the group to which humans also belong. Zebrafish are only a few centimeters long and their embryos are transparent, which is why researchers can observe every change under the microscope. In the early development of zebrafish, the heart is like a tube surrounded by a pump of epithelial cells.
The upper and lower sides of an epithelial cell are clearly different. The upper side, which forms a boundary between organs and either tissue fluid, hollow spaces, or the environment, has a different function than the lower side facing the connective tissue. Both poles of an epithelial cell are vital for the functioning of the heart and other organs.
*Divergent polarization mechanisms during vertebrate epithelial development mediated by the Crumbs complex protein Nagie oko
Nana Bit-Avragim1,2,*, Nicole Hellwig1,*, Franziska Rudolph1, Chantilly Munson3, Didier Y.S. Stainier3 and Salim Abdelilah-Seyfried1,?
3Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Programs in Developmental Biology, Genetics, and Human Genetics, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-2711, USABarbara Bachtler
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