The C. elegans early embryo is highly polarized, requiring sequestration of cytoplasmic polarity factors at the plasma membrane. This compartmentalization aids asymmetric distribution of lipids and proteins, which is partially responsible for the fates of the daughter cells. Since most plasma membrane proteins are glycosylated, we determined the effect of N-glycosylation attenuation on cell polarity. While polarity establishment was not perturbed, the AB/P1 size ratio was more variable in embryos with reduced N-glycosylation than in the mock-treated ones. In addition, among other deficiencies, we observed spindle orientation defects in two-cell embryos. Moreover, cell-cell adhesion was specifically lost at the two-cell stage when N-glycosylation was reduced. This loss-of-adhesion phenotype was rescued by interfering with polarity establishment, indicating that polarity establishment enforces plasma membrane compartmentalization. Consistently, the decreased plasma membrane levels of the adhesion proteins E-cadherin and MAGI-1 in ribo-1(RNAi) embryos were restored in the absence of functional PAR-2. Our data suggest a general role for N-glycosylation in plasma membrane compartmentalization and cell polarity.
- Received March 11, 2016.
- Accepted February 6, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd