June 20, 2011

As you all vacation this summer at the beach, throw a “Thank you!” out to the sea urchins for their amazing contributions to cell and developmental biology research. Today’s image is from a paper showing a role for a major polarity protein in cilia formation in sea urchin embryos.

After a sea urchin’s initial stages of embryogenesis, it hatches out of its eggshell to become a swimming resident of the marine world. It swims using cilia, which beat to push water around. The cilia on this swimming embryo reside in the outer layer of epithelial cells, and emanate from basal bodies just below each cell’s surface. A recent paper shows a role for the polarity protein aPKC (atypical protein kinase C) in the formation of cilia in the sea urchin embryo. aPKC is a member of a protein complex important in asymmetric cell divisions, and Prulière and colleagues found that it has a very asymmetric localization during ciliogenesis. Images above show cilia (red) of sea urchin embryos in the absence (top left) or presence of an aPKC inhibitor. As the levels of the inhibitor increases (concentrations are indicated), the length of cilia decreases.

ResearchBlogging.orgPruliere, G., Cosson, J., Chevalier, S., Sardet, C., & Chenevert, J. (2011). Atypical protein kinase C controls sea urchin ciliogenesis Molecular Biology of the Cell, 22 (12), 2042-2053 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E10-10-0844

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