Ciona Intestinalis Notochord as a New Model to Investigate the Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Tubulogenesis

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 May;23(3):308-19. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Mar 23.


Biological tubes are a prevalent structural design across living organisms. They provide essential functions during the development and adult life of an organism. Increasing progress has been made recently in delineating the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying tubulogenesis. This review aims to introduce ascidian notochord morphogenesis as an interesting model system to study the cell biology of tube formation, to a wider cell and developmental biology community. We present fundamental morphological and cellular events involved in notochord morphogenesis, compare and contrast them with other more established tubulogenesis model systems, and point out some unique features, including bipolarity of the notochord cells, and using cell shape changes and cell rearrangement to connect lumens. We highlight some initial findings in the molecular mechanisms of notochord morphogenesis. Based on these findings, we present intriguing problems and put forth hypotheses that can be addressed in future studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ciona intestinalis / cytology*
  • Ciona intestinalis / embryology*
  • Ciona intestinalis / metabolism
  • Models, Biological*
  • Morphogenesis*
  • Notochord / cytology*
  • Notochord / embryology*
  • Notochord / metabolism