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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2011 Oct;21(5):664-70. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Sep 3.

Quantitative microscopy and imaging tools for the mechanical analysis of morphogenesis.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 3501 5th Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, United States.


The importance of mechanical signals during embryogenesis and development, through both intercellular and extracellular signals, is coming into focus. It is widely hypothesized that physical forces help to guide the shape, cellular differentiation and the patterning of tissues. To test these ideas many classical engineering principles and imaging technologies are being adapted. Recent advances in microscopy, mechanical testing and genetic and pharmacological techniques, alongside computational models are helping to dissect the activity of mechanical signals in development at the cellular and molecular level. These inroads are providing maps of mechanical changes in tissue structure and stiffness, and will permit deeper insights into the role of mechanics in both developmental biology and disease.

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