Cell adhesion and mechanics as drivers of tissue organization and differentiation: local cues for large scale organization

Wickström SA, Niessen CM

Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 2018 10;54:89-97

PMID: 29864721

Abstract

Biological patterns emerge through specialization of genetically identical cells to take up distinct fates according to their position within the organism. How initial symmetry is broken to give rise to these patterns remains an intriguing open question. Several theories of patterning have been proposed, most prominently Turing’s reaction-diffusion model of a slowly diffusing activator and a fast diffusing inhibitor generating periodic patterns. Although these reaction-diffusion systems can generate diverse patterns, it is becoming increasingly evident that cell shape and tension anisotropies, mediated via cell-cell and/or cell-matrix contacts, also facilitate symmetry breaking and subsequent self-organized tissue patterning. This review will highlight recent studies that implicate local changes in adhesion and/or tension as key drivers of cell rearrangements. We will also discuss recent studies on the role of cadherin and integrin adhesive receptors in mediating and responding to local tissue tension asymmetries to coordinate cell fate, position and behavior essential for tissue self-organization and maintenance.

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