Epithelial polarity and tubulogenesis in vitro

Trends Cell Biol. 2003 Apr;13(4):169-76. doi: 10.1016/s0962-8924(03)00036-9.


The most fundamental type of organization of cells in metazoa is that of epithelia, which comprise sheets of adherent cells that divide the organism into topologically and physiologically distinct spaces. Some epithelial cells cover the outside of the organism; these often form multiple layers, such as in skin. Other epithelial cells form monolayers that line internal organs, and yet others form tubes that infiltrate the whole organism, carrying liquids and gases containing nutrients, waste and other materials. These tubes can form elaborate networks in the lung, kidney, reproductive passages and vasculature tree, as well as the many glands branching from the digestive system such as the liver, pancreas and salivary glands. In vitro systems can be used to study tube formation and might help to define common principles underlying the formation of diverse types of tubular organ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Epithelium / embryology
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules / cytology
  • Kidney Tubules / embryology
  • Models, Biological