Dynamics of Planar Polarity in the Vertebrate Nervous System
Mathewson, Andrew Walter
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The asymmetric localization of planar cell polarity (PCP) proteins is essential for the establishment of many planar polarized cellular processes, but the mechanisms that maintain these asymmetric distributions remain poorly understood. A body of evidence has tied oriented subapical microtubules (MTs) to the establishment of PCP protein polarity, yet recent studies have suggested that the MT cytoskeleton is later dispensable for the maintenance of this asymmetry. As MTs underlie the vesicular trafficking of membrane-bound proteins within cells, the requirement for MTs in the maintenance of PCP merited further investigation. I sought to investigate the complex interactions between PCP proteins and the MT cytoskeleton in the polarized context of the floorplate of the zebrafish neural tube. We demonstrated that the progressive posterior polarization of the primary cilia of floorplate cells requires not only Vangl2 but also Fzd3a. I determined that GFP-Vangl2 asymmetrically localizes to anterior membranes whereas Fzd3a-GFP is equally distributed on anterior and posterior membranes but maintains a cytosolic enrichment at the base of the primary cilium. Vesicular Fzd3a-GFP is rapidly trafficked along MTs primarily toward the apical membrane during a period of PCP maintenance, whereas GFP-Vangl2 appears to be less dynamic, maintaining asymmetry at the membrane. Nocodazole-induced loss of MT polymerization disrupts basal body positioning as well as GFP-Vangl2 localization and reduces cytosolic Fzd3a-GFP movements. Removal of nocodazole after MT disruption restores MT polymerization but does not restore basal body polarity. Interestingly, GFP-Vangl2 repolarizes to anterior membranes and Fzd3a-GFP largely re-establishes normal dynamics after multiple hours of recovery, even in the context of unpolarized basal bodies. Together my findings challenge previous work by revealing an ongoing role for MT-dependent transport of PCP proteins in maintaining both cellular and PCP protein asymmetry during development. PCP signaling has been implicated in the directional migration of single cells during development, especially within the developing nervous system. One such migration is the tangential migration of facial branchiomotor neurons (FBMNs) in the highly polarized context of the vertebrate hindbrain. It is well-established that many core PCP and PCP-related signaling components are required for FBMN migration, yet how PCP signaling is used to enable this migration is not well understood. By systematically disrupting PCP signaling in a rhombomere-restricted manner we show that PCP signaling is required both within FBMNs and the hindbrain rhombomere 4 environment at the time when they initiate their migration. Correspondingly, we demonstrate planar polarized localization of PCP core components Vangl2 and Fzd3a in the hindbrain neuroepithelium, and transient localization of Vangl2 at the tips of retracting FBMN filopodia. Using high-resolution timelapse imaging of FBMNs in genetic chimeras we uncover opposing cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous functions for Fzd3a and Vangl2 in regulating FBMN protrusive activity. Within FBMNs, Fzd3a is required to stabilize filopodia while Vangl2 has an antagonistic, destabilizing role. However, in the migratory environment Fzd3a acts to destabilize FBMN filopodia while Vangl2 has a stabilizing role. Together, our findings suggest a model in which PCP signaling between the planar polarized neuroepithelial environment and FBMNs directs migration by the selective stabilization of FBMN filopodia.