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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Oct 21;95(17):178104. Epub 2005 Oct 21.

Role of physical mechanisms in biological self-organization.

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Department of Physics, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.


Organs form during morphogenesis, the process that gives rise to specialized biological structures of specific shape and function in early embryonic development. Morphogenesis is under strict genetic control, but shape evolution itself is a physical process. Here we report the results of experimental and modeling biophysical studies on in vitro biological structure formation. Experimentally, by controlling the interaction between cells and their embedding matrices, we were able to build living structures of definite geometry. The experimentally observed shape evolution was reproduced by Monte Carlo simulations, which also shed light on the biophysical basis of the process. Our work suggests a novel way to engineer biological structures of controlled shape.

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