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Using Sidekick to Define the Role of Apical Vertices in Morphogenesis

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During animal development, epithelial tissues undergo morphogenesis in order to build tissues, organs and body structure. A key driving force in epithelial morphogenesis is cell rearrangement, which results from the remodelling of cell-cell contacts. In epithelia, cell-cell contacts are connected via vertices, where 3 or more cells meet. I have used the Drosophila model to investigate the behaviour and role of vertices in epithelial morphogenesis, using as an entry point a newly discovered marker of epithelial vertices, the Immunoglobulin-superfamily domain protein Sidekick. Sidekick-YFP forms plaque-like structures at cell vertices at the level of adherens junctions, indicating that large multi-protein complexes containing Sidekick define a novel cortical domain in Drosophila epithelia. Sidekick is the first protein in any organism found to localise at vertices at the level of adherens junctions. Through characterisation of a null allele of sidekick, using both both manual and automated cell tracking based quantitative analysis, I have found that Sidekick at apical vertices is important for the regulation of adhesion, tissue geometry and junction remodelling during morphogenesis of the embryonic ectoderm.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Fly Meetings series.

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