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The cytoskeleton is a master organizer of the cellular cortex and membrane trafficking and therefore plays a crucial role in apico-basal polarity. Septins form a family of GTPases that assemble into non-polar filaments, which bind to membranes and recruit cytoskeletal elements such as microtubules and actin using their polybasic (PB) domains, to perform their broad biological functions. Nevertheless, the role of septins and the significance of their membrane-binding ability in apico-basal polarity remains under-investigated. Here, using 3D cultures, we demonstrated that septin 9 localizes to the basolateral membrane (BM). Its depletion induces an inverted polarity phenotype, decreasing β-catenin at BM and increasing transforming growth factor (TGFβ) and Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) markers. Similar effects were observed after deleting its two PB domains. The mutant became cytoplasmic and apical. The cysts with an inverted polarity phenotype displayed an invasive phenotype, with src and cortactin accumulating at the peripheral membrane. The inhibition of TGFβ-receptor and RhoA rescued the polarized phenotype, although the cysts from overexpressed septin 9 overgrew and presented a filled lumen. Both phenotypes corresponded to tumor features. This suggests that septin 9 expression, along with its assembly through the two PB domains, is essential for establishing and maintaining apico-basal polarity against tumor development.


Tingting Cai, Juan Peng, Mohyeddine Omrane, Nassima Benzoubir, Didier Samuel, Ama Gassama-Diagne. Septin 9 Orients the Apico-Basal Polarity Axis and Controls Plasticity Signals. Cells. 2023 Jul 09;12(14)

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PMID: 37508480

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