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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Oct;15(10):665-76. doi: 10.1038/nrm3871. Epub 2014 Sep 4.

Molecular mechanisms of de novo lumen formation.

Author information

1] European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany. [2].
1] European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany. [2] Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne, D-50674 Cologne, Germany.


Many organs contain networks of epithelial tubes that transport gases or fluids. A lumen can be generated by tissue that enwraps a pre-existing extracellular space or it can arise de novo either between cells or within a single cell in a position where there was no space previously. Apparently distinct mechanisms of de novo lumen formation observed in vitro - in three-dimensional cultures of endothelial and Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells - and in vivo - in zebrafish vasculature, Caenorhabditis elegans excretory cells and the Drosophila melanogaster trachea - in fact share many common features. In all systems, lumen formation involves the structured expansion of the apical plasma membrane through general mechanisms of vesicle transport and of microtubule and actin cytoskeleton regulation.

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