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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2002;18:463-93. Epub 2002 Apr 2.

Molecular mechanisms of epithelial morphogenesis.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Epithelial morphogenesis comprises the various processes by which epithelia contribute to organ formation and body shape. These complex and diverse events play a central role in animal development and regeneration. Recently, the characterization of some of the molecular mechanisms involved in epithelial morphogenesis has provided an abundance of new information on the role and regulation of the cytoskeleton, cell-cell adhesion, and cell-matrix adhesion in these processes. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving cell shape changes, cell intercalation, fusion of epithelia, ingression, egression, and cell migration. Our discussion is mostly focused on results from Drosophila and mammalian tissue culture but also draws on the insights gained from other organisms.

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