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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1983 Dec;78:83-125.

Mechanical aspects of mesenchymal morphogenesis.


Many embryonic cells generate substantial contractile forces as they spread and crawl. These forces mechanically deform each cell's local environment, and the resulting distortions can alter subsequent cell movements by convection and the mechanisms of contact guidance and haptotaxis. Here we develop a model for the cumulative effects of these cell-generated forces and show how they can lead to the formation of regular large-scale patterns in cell populations. This model leads to several predictions concerning the effects of cellular and matrix properties on the resulting patterns. We apply the model to two widely studied morphogenetic processes: (a) patterns of skin-organ primordia, especially feather germ formation, and (b) the condensation of cartilagenous skeletal rudiments in the developing vertebrate limb.

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