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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 May;23(3):341-9. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Effectors of tridimensional cell morphogenesis and their evolution.

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Université de Toulouse, UPS, Centre de Biologie du Développement, Toulouse, France.


One of the most challenging problems in biology resides in unraveling the molecular mechanisms, hardwired in the genome, that define and regulate the multiscale tridimensional organization of organs, tissues and individual cells. While works in cultured cells have revealed the importance of cytoskeletal networks for cell architecture, in vivo models are now required to explore how such a variety in cell shape is produced during development, in interaction with neighboring cells and tissues. The genetic analysis of epidermis development in Drosophila has provided an unbiased way to identify mechanisms remodeling the shape of epidermal cells, to form apical trichomes during terminal differentiation. Since hearing in vertebrates relies on apical cell extensions in sensory cells of the cochlea, called stereocilia, the mapping of human genes causing hereditary deafness has independently identified several factors required for this peculiar tridimensional organization. In this review, we summarized recent results obtained toward the identification of genes involved in these localized changes in cell shape and discuss their evolution throughout developmental processes and species.

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