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In mammals, a set of anatomically diverse polarity processes - including axon growth and guidance, hair follicle orientation, and stereociliary bundle orientation in inner ear sensory hair cells - appear to be mechanistically related, as judged by their dependence on vertebrate homologues of core tissue polarity/planar cell polarity (PCP) genes in Drosophila. To explore more deeply the mechanistic similarities between different polarity processes, we have determined the extent to which frizzled 3 (Fz3) can rescue the hair follicle and Merkel cell polarity defects in frizzled 6-null (Fz6(-/-)) mice, and, reciprocally, the extent to which Fz6 can rescue the axon growth and guidance defects in Fz3(-/-) mice. These experiments reveal full rescue of the Fz6(-/-) phenotype by Fz3 and partial rescue of the Fz3(-/-) phenotype by Fz6, implying that these two proteins are likely to act in a conserved manner in these two contexts. Stimulated by these observations, we searched for additional anatomical structures that exhibit macroscopic polarity and that might plausibly use Fz3 and/or Fz6 signaling. This search has revealed a hitherto unappreciated pattern of papillae on the dorsal surface of the tongue that depends, at least in part, on redundant signaling by Fz3 and Fz6. Taken together, these experiments provide compelling evidence for a close mechanistic relationship between multiple anatomically diverse polarity processes. © 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


Zhong L Hua, Hao Chang, Yanshu Wang, Philip M Smallwood, Jeremy Nathans. Partial interchangeability of Fz3 and Fz6 in tissue polarity signaling for epithelial orientation and axon growth and guidance. Development (Cambridge, England). 2014 Oct;141(20):3944-54

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PMID: 25294940

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