Planar polarity as a model for understanding self-organisation from molecular to tissue scales

Year of award: 2018


  • Prof David Strutt

    University of Sheffield

Project summary

The development of the organs in our bodies requires many different types of cells to be organised into complex structures. Remarkably, rather than being directed by an external blueprint or map that tells each cell where to go, much of the arrangement of cells in our bodies arises via a process known as self-organisation. This is where cells communicate with their neighbours to arrange themselves into simple patterns.

We will study one of the simplest forms of self-organisation of cells: a process called planar polarity in which cells in a flat sheet align themselves to point in the same direction. Studies in the fruit fly have identified many of the genes that produce proteins that mediate the coordinated alignment of cells. We will seek to understand how the action of individual proteins within cells can lead them to align themselves with their neighbours.

Our findings will help us understand self-organisation and planar polarity.