The asymmetric polarization of cells allows specialized functions to be performed at discrete subcellular locales. Spatiotemporal coordination of polarization between groups of cells allowed the evolution of metazoa. For instance, coordinated apical-basal polarization of epithelial and endothelial cells allows transport of nutrients and metabolites across cell barriers and tissue microenvironments. The defining feature of such tissues is the presence of a central, interconnected luminal network. Although tubular networks are present in seemingly different organ systems, such as the kidney, lung, and blood vessels, common underlying principles govern their formation. Recent studies using in vivo and in vitro models of lumen formation have shed new light on the molecular networks regulating this fundamental process. We here discuss progress in understanding common design principles underpinning de novo lumen formation and expansion.
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