The polarized architecture of epithelia relies on an interplay between the cytoskeleton, the trafficking machinery, and cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion. Specifically, contact with the basement membrane (BM), an extracellular matrix underlying the basal side of epithelia, is important for cell polarity. However, little is known about how BM proteins themselves achieve a polarized distribution. In a genetic screen in the Drosophila follicular epithelium, we identified mutations in Crag, which encodes a conserved protein with domains implicated in membrane trafficking. Follicle cells mutant for Crag lose epithelial integrity and frequently become invasive. The loss of Crag leads to the anomalous accumulation of BM components on both sides of epithelial cells without directly affecting the distribution of apical or basolateral membrane proteins. This defect is not generally observed in mutants affecting epithelial integrity. We propose that Crag plays a unique role in organizing epithelial architecture by regulating the polarized secretion of BM proteins.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology