Development and dynamics of cell polarity at a glance

Joseph P. Campanale, Thomas Y. Sun, Denise J. Montell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Cells exhibit morphological and molecular asymmetries that are broadly categorized as cell polarity. The cell polarity established in early embryos prefigures the macroscopic anatomical asymmetries characteristic of adult animals. For example, eggs and early embryos have polarized distributions of RNAs and proteins that generate global anterior/posterior and dorsal/ventral axes. The molecular programs that polarize embryos are subsequently reused in multiple contexts. Epithelial cells require apical/basal polarity to establish their barrier function. Migrating cells polarize in the direction of movement, creating distinct leading and trailing structures. Asymmetrically dividing stem cells partition different molecules between themselves and their daughter cells. Cell polarity can develop de novo, be maintained through rounds of cell division and be dynamically remodeled. In this Cell Science at a Glance review and poster, we describe molecular asymmetries that underlie cell polarity in several cellular contexts. We highlight multiple developmental systems that first establish cell/developmental polarity, and then maintain it. Our poster showcases repeated use of the Par, Scribble and Crumbs polarity complexes, which drive the development of cell polarity in many cell types and organisms.We then briefly discuss the diverse and dynamic changes in cell polarity that occur during cell migration, asymmetric cell division and in planar polarized tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1207
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Apical basal polarity
  • Asymmetric cell division
  • Axis specification
  • Cell migration
  • Cell polarity complexes
  • Cell polarity signaling
  • Crumbs complex
  • Par complex
  • Planar cell polarity
  • Scribble complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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