New insights into the polarization of multicellular epithelia

Multi-ciliated epithelia play an important role in respiratory function. In humans, multi-ciliated cells are particularly needed for respiratory clearance, a mechanism that allows renewing the protective mucus barrier protecting the lungs from pathogens and dust. Disturbances in the function of these cells caused by certain genetic mutations can thus be at the origin of severe respiratory diseases. An international collaboration between two teams form the IJM and the Max Planck Institute in Dresden has highlighted a novel mechanism for controlling the direction of ciliary beat in a multicellular epithelium. Using an invertebrate model, the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea, researchers have shown that the joint action of two conserved signaling pathways can generate a ciliary pattern that reflects the bilateral symmetry of the animal itself. However, the elements of the cytoskeleton on which the polarity signals act to orient the cilia exhibit chiral asymmetry. This work thus allowed to identify new molecular actors in the polarization of multi-ciliated epithelia, but also to understand how the so-called Bilaterian animals, of which we are part, can generate a bilateral symmetry from chiral molecules or structures.

Multi-ciliated epithelia play an important role in respiratory function. In humans, multi-ciliated cells are particularly needed for respiratory clearance, a mechanism that allows renewing the protective mucus barrier protecting the lungs from pathogens and dust. Disturbances in the function of these cells caused by certain genetic mutations can thus be at the origin of severe respiratory diseases. An international collaboration between two teams form the IJM and the Max Planck Institute in Dresden has highlighted a novel mechanism for controlling the direction of ciliary beat in a multicellular epithelium. Using an invertebrate model, the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea, researchers have shown that the joint action of two conserved signaling pathways can generate a ciliary pattern that reflects the bilateral symmetry of the animal itself. However, the elements of the cytoskeleton on which the polarity signals act to orient the cilia exhibit chiral asymmetry. This work thus allowed to identify new molecular actors in the polarization of multi-ciliated epithelia, but also to understand how the so-called Bilaterian animals, of which we are part, can generate a bilateral symmetry from chiral molecules or structures.

Vu, H.T.K., Mansour, S., Kücken, M., Blasse, C., Basquin, C., Azimzadeh, J., Myers, E.W., Brusch, L., and Christian Rink, J.C. Dynamic polarization of the multi-ciliated planarian epidermis between body plan landmarks. Developmental Cell, 2019, 51(4): 526-542.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2019.10.022

Basquin, C., Ershov, D., Gaudin, N., Vu, H.T.K., Louis, B., Papon, J.F., Orfila, A.M., Mansour, S., Rink., J.C., and Azimzadeh, J. Emergence of a bilaterally symmetric pattern from chiral components in the planarian epidermis. Developmental Cell, 2019, 51(4): 516-525. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2019.10.021

Contact:

Juliette Azimzadeh

CNRS Researcher at the Institut Jacques Monod (CNRS, Université de Paris)

+ 33 1 57 27 81 13

juliette.azimzadeh(at)ijm.fr

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