In C.elegans embryos, the polarity of the embryo is determined by the the conserved PAR proteins, which segregate into two domains. The separation into two domains is essential for the function in polarity. We work on the following questions:

a) What is the polarity cue?
b) How to the PAR proteins segregate into two domains?
c) How do the PAR proteins position the mitotic spindle and other downstream effectors?

One of the downstream effectors of the polarity pathway is P granules. We have shown that they have surprising liquid-like properties, with features rather like colloidal liquids. We are investigating the biophysical properties of P granule assembly, and whether liquid like properties have more general relevance to assembly of the cytoskeleton.

Carsten Hoege
Anne Schwager
Shamba Saha
Louise Jawerth

For a clear synopsis on the current state of the field, please read the following review on the mechanisms of polarity establishment:
Hoege C, Hyman AA.  Principles of PAR polarity in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2013 May;14(5):315-22.  [PubMed] [PDF]

Other Associated Publications

  • Carrie R. Cowan, Anthony A. Hyman. Asymmetric Cell Division in C. elegans: Cortical Polarity and Spindle PositioningAnnu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 20: 427-453 (2004) [PDF] 
  • Brangwynne CP, Eckmann CR, Courson DS, Rybarska A, Hoege C, Gharakhani J, Julicher F, Hyman AA. Germline P Granules Are Liquid Droplets That Localize by Controlled Dissolution/Condensation. Science 324 (5935): 1729-1732 (2009)