Fat, Fat-like, and Dachsous family cadherins are giant proteins that regulate planar cell polarity (PCP) and cell adhesion in bilaterians. Their evolutionary origin can be traced back to prebilaterian species, but their ancestral function(s) are unknown. We identified Fat-like and Dachsous cadherins in Hydra, a member of phylum Cnidaria a sister group of bilaterian. We found Hydra does not possess a true Fat homolog, but has homologs of Fat-like (HyFatl) and Dachsous (HyDs) that localize at the apical membrane of ectodermal epithelial cells and are planar polarized perpendicular to the oral-aboral axis of the animal. Using a knockdown approach we found that HyFatl is involved in local cell alignment and cell-cell adhesion, and that reduction of HyFatl leads to defects in tissue organization in the body column. Overexpression and knockdown experiments indicate that the intracellular domain (ICD) of HyFatl affects actin organization through proline-rich repeats. Thus, planar polarization of Fat-like and Dachsous cadherins has ancient, prebilaterian origins, and Fat-like cadherins have ancient roles in cell adhesion, spindle orientation, and tissue organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19310-19320
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 11 2020


  • Adhesion
  • Cadherins
  • Evolution
  • Hydra
  • Planar cell polarity


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