Dorsal closure is a morphogenetic process involving the coordinated convergence of two epithelial sheets to enclose the Drosophila melanogaster embryo. Specialized populations of cells at the edges of each epithelial sheet, the dorsal-most epidermal cells, emit actin-based processes that are essential for the proper enclosure of the embryo. Here we show that actin dynamics at the leading edge is preceded by a planar polarization of the dorsal-most epidermal cells associated with a reorganization of the cytoskeleton. An important consequence of this planar polarization is the formation of actin-nucleating centres at the leading edge, which are important in the dynamics of actin. We show that Wingless (Wg) signalling and Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) signalling have overlapping but different roles in these events.
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