Modeling lung branching morphogenesis

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2008;81:291-310. doi: 10.1016/S0070-2153(07)81010-6.


Vertebrate lung has tree-like structure which facilitates gas exchange. After discovery of the involvement of several key toolkit genes--FGF10, BMP4, and Shh, huge amount of molecular information on lung development is now available. However, how their interactions result in a branched structure has not been elucidated. Recently, some studies have utilized mathematical models to understand the mechanism of branching morphogenesis, and we now have some models which are reliable enough to make experimental predictions in the in vitro system. In addition, a different type of modeling, which generates tree-like branching pattern by repeatedly applying a set of simple rules iteratively, is also utilized to model lung function. In this review, I focus on how these models can contribute to understand pattern formation phenomena from experimental biologist's point of view.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Computer Simulation
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 / genetics
  • Fractals
  • Hedgehog Proteins / genetics
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / embryology
  • Lung / growth & development*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Models, Biological*
  • Morphogenesis


  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10
  • Hedgehog Proteins