The par genes are required to establish polarity in the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. Mutations in two of these genes, par-3 and par-6, exhibit similar phenotypes. A third gene, pkc-3, gives a similar phenotype when the protein is depleted by RNA interference. PAR-3 and PKC-3 protein are colocalized to the anterior periphery of asymmetrically dividing cells of the germline lineage and the peripheral localizations of both proteins depends upon the activity of par-6. Here we report the molecular cloning of par-6 and the immunolocalization of PAR-6 protein. We found that par-6 encodes a PDZ-domain-containing protein and has homologues in mammals and flies. Moreover, we discovered that PAR-6 colocalizes with PAR-3 and that par-3 and pkc-3 activity are required for the peripheral localization of PAR-6. The localization of both PAR-3 and PAR-6 proteins is affected identically by mutations in the par-2, par-4 and par-5 genes. The co-dependence of PAR-3, PAR-6 and PKC-3 for peripheral localization and the overlap in their distributions lead us to propose that they act in a protein complex.

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