Establishing and transducing cell polarity: common themes and variations

04 Jun 2018

All cells in vivo have a primary axis of polarity that controls many aspects of their behaviour, such as the direction of protein secretion and signalling, the orientation of cell division and directed cell movement and morphogenesis. Cell polarise in response to extracellular cues or intracellular landmarks that initiate a signal transduction process that establishes complementary cortical domains of conserved polarity factors. These cortical domains then transmit this polarity to the rest of the cell by regulating the organisation of the cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking systems. Here I review work over the past couple of years that has elucidated many key features of how polarity is established and transduced in different systems, but has also revealed unexpected variations in polarity mechanisms depending on context.