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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 May;23(3):298-307. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.03.006. Epub 2012 Mar 10.

Calcium signaling in developing embryos: focus on the regulation of cell shape changes and collective movements.

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IBDML, UMR7288 CNRS-Aix-Marseille Université, Campus de Luminy, Marseille, France.


During morphogenesis tissues significantly remodel by coordinated cell migrations and cell rearrangements. Central to this problem are cell shape changes that are driven by distinct cytoskeletal reorganization responsible for force generation. Calcium is a versatile and universal messenger that is implicated in the regulation of embryonic development. Although calcium transients accrue clearly and more intensely in tissues undergoing rearrangement/migration, it is far from clear what the role of these calcium signals is. Here we summarize the evidence implicating calcium participation in tissue movements, cell shape changes and the reorganization of contractile cytoskeletal elements in developing embryos. We also discuss a novel hypothesis that short-lived calcium spikes are required in cells and tissues undergoing migration and rearrangements as a fine tuning response mechanism to prevent local, abnormally high fluctuations in cytoskeletal activities.

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