The product of the segment polarity gene patched is a transmembrane protein involved in the cell communication processes that establish polarity within the embryonic segments of Drosophila. Monoclonal antibodies have been raised against the patched protein, and by immunoelectron microscopy part of the patched staining is found associated with discrete regions of the lateral plasma membrane of the embryonic epidermal cells. Using a mutation affecting endocytosis (shibire) we find that patched is a membrane-bound protein, which is internalized by endocytosis, and that the preferential sites of accumulation resemble the described localization of the cell-cell adhesive junctions of the epidermal cells. patched partially co-localizes with the wingless protein in the wingless-expressing and nearby cells, in structures that seem to be endocytic vesicles. These data suggest the interaction of patched protein with elements of the reception complex of wingless, as a way to control the wingless expression.
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