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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2004 Feb;14(1):71-80.

Death in the third dimension: apoptosis regulation and tissue architecture.

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Department of Bioengineering and Institute for Medicine and Engineering, 1170 Vagelos Research Laboratory, 3340 Smith Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6383, USA.


Tissue development, homeostasis and tumor pathogenesis all depend upon a complex dialogue between multiple cell types operating within a dynamic three-dimensional (3D) tissue extracellular matrix microenvironment. A major issue is whether the spatial organization of a cell within this 3D tissue microenvironment could modulate cell responsiveness to regulate cell fate decisions such as survival, and if so how. Classic developmental model systems and transgenic animals are instructive but pose special challenges for investigators conducting signaling studies and biochemical assays in tissues. As an alternative, 3D culture model systems exist in which cell-adhesion dependent tissue architecture, heterotypic cell-cell interactions and tissue differentiation can be recapitulated with good fidelity. 3D cell culture models are slowly revealing how tissue architecture can dramatically influence how a cell responds to exogenous stimuli to modify its apoptotic behavior and hence should prove instrumental for identifying novel cell death pathways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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