The C.elegans intestinal tube is built from twenty cells that form a single-layered epithelium, with a clearly defined apical membrane facing the central lumen and basolateral surfaces contacting adjacent cells and the extracellular matrix. Establishment and maintenance of apicobasal polarity by epithelial cells is fundamental to the morphogenesis of a central lumen and the architecture of internal organs.
Many human diseases, such as cancer, microvillus inclusion disease, polycystic kidney disease and atherosclerotic heart disease, derive from defects in polarity, epithelial morphogenesis, tubular organization, and lumenal membrane integrity. A molecular understanding of tubular polarity could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating these conditions. My current focus is to define the molecular networks required to establish and maintain apicobasal polarity during de novo membrane biogenesis in the expanding intestinal epithelium.