Cleavage furrow-directed cortical flows bias PAR polarization pathways to link cell polarity to cell division

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During development, the conserved PAR polarity network is continuously redeployed, requiring that it adapt to changing cellular contexts and environmental cues. In the early C. elegans embryo, polarity shifts from being a cell-autonomous process in the zygote to one that must be coordinated between neighbors as the embryo becomes multicellular. Here, we sought to explore how the PAR network adapts to this shift in the highly tractable C. elegans germline P lineage. We find that although P lineage blastomeres exhibit a distinct pattern of polarity emergence compared with the zygote, the underlying mechanochemical processes that drive polarity are largely conserved. However, changes in the symmetry-breaking cues of P lineage blastomeres ensure coordination of their polarity axis with neighboring cells. Specifically, we show that furrow-directed cortical flows associated with cytokinesis of the zygote induce symmetry breaking in the germline blastomere P1 by transporting PAR-3 into the nascent cell contact. This pool of PAR-3 then biases downstream PAR polarization pathways to establish the polarity axis of P1 with respect to the position of its anterior sister, AB. Thus, our data suggest that cytokinesis itself induces symmetry breaking through the advection of polarity proteins by furrow-directed flows. By directly linking cell polarity to cell division, furrow-directed cortical flows could be a general mechanism to ensure proper organization of cell polarity within actively dividing systems.

Journal details

Journal Current Biology
Volume 33
Issue number 20
Pages 4298-4311.e6
Available online
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