Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Polarising Proteins
28 August 2016

Polarising Proteins

A truly mind-boggling process, embryonic development sees a single cell give rise to a complex organism, with a multitude of different tissue types. To form 3D structures like our organs, cells must first re-arrange themselves into hollow spheres or tubes, a critical event known as cavitation. Embryonic stem cells can do this in the laboratory, allowing researchers to study how this phenomenon is triggered and controlled. Correct cavitation requires cell polarity, meaning that the various molecules and structures inside the cells must be unequally arranged, so one side of the cell differs from the other; those above (in blue), which have self-organised to form a hollow shape, are enriched in certain proteins on the inside (in red) and others on the outside edge (in green). Recent work is beginning to identify the proteins responsible for this internal re-arrangement, sending, receiving and responding to polarity signals from neighbours to coordinate development.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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