Morphogenesis Proteins

 Morphogenesis Proteins Background

Morphogenesis refers to the shaping of tissues, organs and entire organisms during development. In addition, morphogenesis also exists in mature organisms and tumor tissues. It is associated with cell movement, shape change, spatial distribution, differential growth and apoptosis. Morphogenesis, cell growth and cell differentiation are the three fundamental aspects of developmental biology. Morphogenesis is responsible for tissue organization and physiology, while mutations in morphogenesis may lead many human congenital abnormalities.

Morphogenesis process may be influenced and regulated by cytokines, environmental chemicals, radionuclides, by mechanical stresses and so on. There are some molecules playing essential roles in morphogenesis such as growth factor, morphogen and transcription factor. Morphogens are the molecules which regulate cell differentiation decisions binding to specific receptors in a concentration-dependent mechanism. Transcription factor proteins can interact with DNA to regulate the expression of these genes to form a regulatory cascade and by this way they influence cell activities and determine the fate of cells. Studies show that signaling pathways Wnt, Hedgehog and ephrins, are involved in morphogenesis process.


An embryo must reorganize its cells to produce a defined body plan by undergoing changes at the cellular, tissue, and organ levels. These changes are ultimately rooted in a small number of stereotypical behaviors, in which coordinated cell shape changes and/or migrations alter tissue structure, such as during intercalation, epiboly, invagination, or ingression. When epithelial sheets participate in these behaviors, however, their very nature as integrated structures demands unique mechanisms for successfully accomplishing tissue movements. While a great deal of previous work has been performed to better understand how cells change shape, migrate, and form junctions in tissue culture, less is known about these processes within the context of an epithelial sheet. Efforts towards better understanding epithelial morphogenesis will have consequences for understanding human disease caused by defective epithelial behaviors, such as the birth defects anencephaly and spina bifida, and epithelial cancers.


Morphogenesis reference

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4. Lutolf M P, Hubbell J A. Synthetic biomaterials as instructive extracellular microenvironments for morphogenesis in tissue engineering[J]. Nature biotechnology, 2005, 23(1): 47-55.