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Curr Top Dev Biol. 2008;81:113-33.

Integrating morphogenesis with underlying mechanics and cell biology.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pensylvania 15260, USA.


Morphogenesis integrates a wide range of cellular processes into a self-organizing, self-deforming tissue. No single molecular "magic bullet" controls morphogenesis. Wide ranging cellular processes, often without parallels in conventional cell culture systems, work together to generate the architecture and modulate forces that produce and guide shape changes in the embryo. In this review we summarize the early development of the frog Xenopus laevis from a biomechanical perspective. We describe processes operating in the embryo from whole embryo scale, the tissue-scale, to the cellular and extracellular matrix scale. We focus on describing cells, their behaviors and the unique microenvironments they traverse during gastrulation and discuss the role of tissue mechanics in these processes.

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