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BACKGROUND: In a specialized epithelial cell such as the Drosophila photoreceptor, a conserved set of proteins is essential for the establishment of polarity, its maintenance, or both--in Drosophila, these proteins include the apical factors Bazooka, D-atypical protein kinase C, and D-Par6 together with D-Ecadherin. However, little is known about the mechanisms by which such apical factors might regulate the differentiation of the apical membrane into functional domains such as an apical-most stack of microvilli or more lateral sub-apical membrane. RESULTS: We show that in photoreceptors Bazooka (D-Par3) recruits the tumor suppressor lipid phosphatase PTEN to developing cell-cell junctions (Zonula Adherens, za). za-localized PTEN controls the spatially restricted accumulation of optimum levels of the lipid PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 within the apical membrane domain. This in turn finely tunes activation of Akt1, a process essential for proper morphogenesis of the light-gathering organelle, consisting of a stack of F-actin rich microvilli within the apical membrane. CONCLUSIONS: Spatially localized PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 mediates directional sensing during neutrophil and Dictyostelium chemotaxis. We conclude that a conserved mechanism also operates during photoreceptor epithelial cell morphogenesis in order to achieve normal differentiation of the apical membrane.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





140 - 149


Adherens Junctions, Animals, Cell Membrane, Cell Polarity, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Epithelial Cells, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Microvilli, Models, Biological, Morphogenesis, PTEN Phosphohydrolase, Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates, Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate, Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases