Mechanisms of epithelial polarity and polarised secretion


  • Prof Daniel St Johnston

    University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Project summary

Most of our organs are composed of sheets of epithelial cells that function as barriers between compartments (e.g. blood vessels) or between the internal and external environment (intestine). Epithelial sheet formation depends on all cells polarising the same way, with different proteins on their apical and basal sides. This proposal aims determine how epithelial cells put specific membrane proteins on the correct place, as this is essential for their function. In a parallel project, we have discovered that the fly intestine polarises by a different mechanism from other fly epithelia and more closely resembles mammalian epithelia. We will identify the key polarity factors in the intestine and combine advanced imaging with genetic manipulations to analyse their functions. We will then use mouse organoids to test whether these factors play conserved roles in mammalian epithelia. This work will reveal how epithelia polarise and how this goes wrong in diseases like cancer.