The emerging field of transcriptional regulation of cell shape changes aims to address the critical question of how gene expression programs produce a change in cell shape. Together with cell growth, division, and death, changes in cell shape are essential for organ morphogenesis. Whereas most studies of cell shape focus on posttranslational events involved in protein organization and distribution, cell shape changes can be genetically programmed. This review highlights the essential role of transcriptional regulation of cell shape during morphogenesis of the heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys. We emphasize the evolutionary conservation of these processes across different model organisms and discuss perspectives on open questions and research avenues that may provide mechanistic insights toward understanding birth defects.
© 2018 Sivakumar and Kurpios.