Planar cell polarity: intracellular asymmetry and supracellular gradients of Dachsous.
The slope of a supracellular molecular gradient has long been thought to orient and coordinate planar cell polarity (PCP). Here we demonstrate and measure that gradient. Dachsous (Ds) is a conserved and elemental molecule of PCP; Ds forms intercellular bridges with another cadherin molecule, Fat (Ft), an interaction modulated by the Golgi protein Four-jointed (Fj). Using genetic mosaics and tagged Ds, we measure Ds in vivo in membranes of individual cells over a whole metamere of the Drosophila abdomen. We find as follows. (i) A supracellular gradient rises from head to tail in the anterior compartment (A) and then falls in the posterior compartment (P). (ii) There is more Ds in the front than the rear membranes of all cells in the A compartment, except that compartment's most anterior and most posterior cells. There is more Ds in the rear than in the front membranes of all cells of the P compartment. (iii) The loss of Fj removes intracellular asymmetry anteriorly in the segment and reduces it elsewhere. Additional experiments show that Fj makes PCP more robust. Using Dachs (D) as a molecular indicator of polarity, we confirm that opposing gradients of PCP meet slightly out of register with compartment boundaries.