In addition to the apical-basal polarity pathway operating in epithelial cells, a planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway establishes polarity within the plane of epithelial tissues and is conserved from Drosophila to mammals. In Drosophila, a 'core' group of PCP genes including frizzled (fz), flamingo/starry night, dishevelled (dsh), Van Gogh/strabismus and prickle, function to regulate wing hair, bristle and ommatidial polarity. In vertebrates, the PCP pathway regulates convergent extension movements and neural tube closure, as well as the orientation of stereociliary bundles of sensory hair cells in the inner ear. Here we show that a mutation in the mouse protein tyrosine kinase 7 (PTK7) gene, which encodes an evolutionarily conserved transmembrane protein with tyrosine kinase homology, disrupts neural tube closure and stereociliary bundle orientation, and shows genetic interactions with a mutation in the mouse Van Gogh homologue vangl2. We also show that PTK7 is dynamically localized during hair cell polarization, and that the Xenopus homologue of PTK7 is required for neural convergent extension and neural tube closure. These results identify PTK7 as a novel regulator of PCP in vertebrates.
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