Infoscience

Review

Signaling in morphogenesis: transport cues in morphogenesis

Extracellular transport processes play critical roles in morphogenesis. While diffusive transport effects on morphogenesis are well illustrated in examples like blood capillary architecture and in cell morphogenetic responses to the local extracellular protein environment, the effects of fluid convection, although important in many developing and regenerating tissues, are not well understood. Convective forces are present whenever a hydrated tissue undergoes dynamic mechanical strain, and so convection could not only dominate the transport of large molecules like proteins, but might also serve as a mechanism for mechanosensing. The complex interdependence of mechanical forces, protein transport and extracellular morphogen gradients needs to be elucidated in a comprehensive way in order for the importance of transport on morphogenesis to be fully appreciated.

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