Novel approaches to the cell biology of planar cell polarity


  • Dr Peter Lawrence

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

Cells in epithelial sheets are polarised in the plane of the sheet, as shown by the patterned orientation of mammalian hairs and insect bristles. This fundamental phenomenon, known as planar cell polarity (PCP), is essential during development, and failures in PCP have been implicated in common human birth defects, such as cleft palate, spina bifida, hearing defects and polycystic kidney disease. Dr Lawrence studies PCP in the fruit fly Drosophila and has recently discovered that single epithelial cells can be multipolar - polarised in different directions - suggesting that the mechanisms of PCP are subcellular. During this award, Dr Lawrence aims to understand the molecular mechanisms by which cells read and interpret their environment to determine their orientation and communicate this information to neighbouring cells, by using a combination of Drosophila genetics, cell biology and in vivo imaging.