Polarity, melanocytes & skin pigmentation
In a different research line, we ask how polarity proteins modulate the initial maturation of the neural-crest derived melanoblast lineage (for review article see Li, Knapp & Iden 2020). Using mouse models and primary cell cultures we could uncover intrinsic functions of isoforms of aPKC and Par3 in distinct stages of melanocyte maturation. We found that Par3 serves downstream of the endocrine pigmentation factor a-MSH in mediating MITF-dependent melanogenesis (Knapp & Iden, bioRxiv 2020). These studies also highlight the distinct roles of polarity proteins in epithelial vs. non-epithelial cell types in mammalian skin.