PAR for the course

PAR homologue, plays an important role in cell polarity.

Jonathan Weitzman(

In the January 23 Nature, Sophie Martin and Daniel St Johnston at the University of Cambridge, UK, show that the Drosophila LKB1 protein — a homolog of PAR kinases — is required for early anterior-posterior polarity in the fly oocyte (Nature, 421:379-384, January 23, 2003).

Martin and St Johnston performed a genetic screen for mutants that disrupt the localization of the posterior polarized protein Stauffen. Genome mapping lead them to the lkb1 gene, that encodes a serine/threonine kinase homologous to the human tumor suppressor LKB1 and the C. elegansPAR-4 kinase that is involved in embryonic polarity. LKB1 is phosphorylated by the related PAR-1 kinase and by protein kinase A. Drosophila LKB1 is essential for cell polarity in the germ line and the follicle cells.

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