The aim of this project is to identify the common mechanisms in the generation of planar cell polarization (PCP) during the Drosophila wing development and during zebrafish gastrulation. Planar polarization of the Drosophila wing epithelium is reflected by the formation of a single actin-based hair at the distal tip of each cell. Components of the Wnt/Fz signalling pathway (PCP pathway) have been shown to control both the number and orientation of these hairs. Similarly, during vertebrate gastrulation, cell s become polarized and extend several actin-based filopodia in the direction of cell movement. PCP signalling likely controls polarized outgrowth of filopodia in these cells. While the general conservation of PCP signalling between Drosophila and zebrafish has been demonstrated, very little is known about the similarity of these two systems at the cellular and molecular level. To address this intriguing developmental question, we plan to conduct a comparative analysis of planar cell polarization in both sys tems. Initially, we will select components of the PCP pathway that have a conserved role in planar cell polarization in Drosophila and in zebrafish. We will focus specifically on new and previously identified genes in Drosophila with a critical role for bo th the orientation and number of wing hairs. Zebrafish homologues of these genes will be identified and tested for their potential role in gastrulation by conducting a morpholino-based loss-of function screen. Promising candidates will then be chosen for a detailed comparative analysis. Specifically, we will address at the single-cell level how the dynamic process of hair and filopodia formation is controlled in each system. Such a comparative study represents a modern approach of studying developmental cel l biology. It will extend our knowledae of how sianallina pathways are evolutionary conserved and how they are applied to different developmental contexts.
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