Compartmentalized morphogenesis in epithelia: from cell to tissue shape

Dev Dyn. 2005 Mar;232(3):685-94. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.20334.


During development, embryonic tissues are shaped in a species-specific manner. Yet, across species, general classes of tissue remodeling events occur, such as tissue infolding and tissue elongation. The spatiotemporal control of these morphogenetic processes is responsible for the organization of different body plans, as well as for organogenesis. Cell morphogenesis in a mesenchyme contributes to the shaping of embryonic tissues. Epithelial cells, despite that they need to maintain an apicobasal organization, play an equally important role during morphogenesis. Moving from apical to basal, we review compartmentalized cellular rearrangements underlying tissue remodeling in Drosophila and compare them with those found in other organisms. Contractile activity at the apical surface triggers tissue folding and invagination. The regulation of adhesion at adherens junctions controls polarized neighbor exchange during intercalation and tissue elongation. Basolateral protrusive activity underlies other cases of intercalation. These localized cell shape changes are spatially regulated by developmental signals. Some signals define a local change in cell behavior (e.g., apical constriction), others orient a dynamic process in the plane of the tissue (e.g., junction remodeling).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cell Shape*
  • Drosophila / cytology
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Embryonic Induction
  • Epithelium / embryology*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Actins