Cell Biology

Going Tubular

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Science  07 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6052, pp. 17
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6052.17-b

Lipids provide the building blocks for cell membranes but can also play a role in intracellular membrane trafficking and signaling. In nematodes, the gut develops from a tubular epithelium that has very distinct apical membranes that will be exposed to materials originating outside the organism, as compared with the basolateral membranes that communicate with the interior of the organism. Zhang et al. wanted to understand the role of lipids during the process of organ formation in C. elegans. By systematically targeting lipid biosynthetic pathways and examining changes in intestinal tubulogenesis, the authors confirmed an essential role for glycosphingolipids in maintaining epithelial polarity and thereby the integrity of the central lumen of the developing gut. Glycosphingolipids were involved in the sorting of lipids and membrane proteins to the apical plasma membrane and were key to the expansion of the apical domains required for intestinal lumen formation.

Nat. Cell Biol. 13, 10.1038/ncb2328 (2011).

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