Cells in the wing blade of Drosophila melanogaster exhibit an in-plane polarization causing distal orientation of hairs. Establishment of the Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) involves intercellular interactions as well as a global orienting signal. Many of the genetic and molecular components underlying this process have been experimentally identified and a recently advanced system-level model has suggested that the observed mutant phenotypes can be understood in terms of intercellular interactions involving asymmetric localization of membrane bound proteins. Among key open questions in understanding the emergence of ordered polarization is the effect of stochasticity and the role of the global orienting signal. These issues relate closely to our understanding of ferromagnetism in physical systems. Here we pursue this analogy to understand the emergence of PCP order. To this end we develop a semi-phenomenological representation of the underlying molecular processes and define a “phase diagram” of the model which provides a global view of the dependence of the phenotype on parameters. We show that the dynamics of PCP has two regimes: rapid growth in the amplitude of local polarization followed by a slower process of alignment which progresses from small to large scales. We discuss the response of the tissue to various types of orienting signals and show that global PCP order can be achieved with a weak orienting signal provided that it acts during the early phase of the process. Finally we define and discuss some of the experimental predictions of the model.
Order and Stochastic Dynamics in Drosophila Planar Cell Polarity
Authors: Yoram Burak, Boris I. Shraiman
Year of publication: 2009
Journal: PLoS Computational Biology Volume 5 | Issue 12 | e1000628
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