Cellularization of the Drosophila embryo results in the formation of a cell monolayer with many characteristics of a polarized epithelium. We have used antibodies specific to cellular junctions and nascent plasma membranes to study the formation of the zonula adherens (ZA) in relation to the establishment of basolateral membrane polarity. The same approach was then used as a test system to identify X-linked zygotically active genes required for ZA formation. We show that ZA formation begins during cellularization and that the basolateral membrane domain is established at mid-gastrulation. By creating deficiences for defined regions of the X chromosome, we have identified genes that are required for the formation of the ZA and the generation of basolateral membrane polarity. We show that embryos mutant for both stardust (sdt) and bazooka (baz) fail to form a ZA. In addition to the failure to establish the ZA, the formation of the monolayered epithelium is disrupted after cellularization, resulting in formation of a multilayered cell sheet by mid-gastrulation. SEM analysis of mutant embryos revealed a conversion of cells exhibiting epithelial characteristics into cells exhibiting mesenchymal characteristics. To investigate how mutations that affect an integral component of the ZA itself influence ZA formation, we examined embryos with reduced maternal and zygotic supply of wild-type Arm protein. These embryos, like embryos mutant for both sdt and baz, exhibit an early disruption of ZA formation. These results suggest that early stages in the assembly of the ZA are critical for the stability of the polarized blastoderm epithelium.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology