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Encyclopedia > Morphogenesis

Morphogenesis (from the Greek morphê shape and genesis creation) is one of three fundamental aspects of developmental biology along with the control of cell growth and cellular differentiation. Morphogenesis is concerned with the shapes of tissues, organs and entire organisms and the positions of the various specialized cell types. Cell growth and differentiation can take place in cell culture or inside of tumor cell masses without the normal morphogenesis that is seen in an intact organism. The study of morphogenesis involves an attempt to understand the processes that control the organized spatial distribution of cells that arises during the embryonic development of an organism and which give rise to the characteristic forms of tissues, organs and overall body anatomy. In the human embryo, the change from a cluster of nearly identical cells at the blastula stage to a post-gastrulation embryo with structured tissues and organs is controlled by the genetic "program" and can be modified by environmental factors. Views of a Foetus in the Womb, Leonardo da Vinci, ca. ... The term cell growth is used in two different ways in biology. ... Embryonic stem cells differentiate into cells in various body organs. ... Views of a Foetus in the Womb, Leonardo da Vinci, ca. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Biological tissue is a collection of interconnected cells that perform a similar function within an organism. ... In biology, an organ (Latin: organum, instrument, tool) is a group of tissues that perform a specific function or group of functions. ... Human heart and lungs, from an older edition of Grays Anatomy. ... Mouse embryonic stem cells with fluorescent marker. ... Blastulation. ... It has been suggested that epiboly be merged into this article or section. ... Biological tissue is a collection of interconnected cells that perform a similar function within an organism. ... In biology, an organ (Latin: organum, instrument, tool) is a group of tissues that perform a specific function or group of functions. ...



Some of the earliest ideas on how physical and mathematical processes and constraints affect biological growth were written by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson and Alan Turing. These works postulated the presence of chemical signals and physico-chemical processes such as diffusion, activation and deactivation in cellular and organismic growth. The fuller understanding of the mechanisms involved in actual organisms required the discovery of DNA and the development of molecular biology and biochemistry. DArcy Wentworth Thompson (May 2, 1860- June 21, 1948) was a biologist and mathematician and the author of the 1917 book, On Growth and Form, an influential work of striking originality. ... Alan Mathison Turing, OBE (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, logician, and cryptographer. ... The structure of part of a DNA double helix Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions for the development and function of living organisms. ... Molecular biology is the study of biology at a molecular level. ... Biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes and transformations in living organisms. ...

Molecular basis

Several types of molecules are particularly important during morphogenesis. Morphogens are soluble molecules that can diffuse and carry signals that control cell differentiation decisions in a concentration-dependent fashion. Morphogens typically act through binding to specific protein receptors. An important class of molecules involved in morphogenesis are transcription factor proteins that determine the fate of cells by interacting with DNA. These can be coded for by master regulatory genes and either activate or deactivate the transcription of other genes and, in turn, these secondary gene products can regulate the expression of still other genes in a regulatory cascade. Another class of molecules involved in morphogenesis are molecules that control cell adhesion. For example, during gastrulation clumps of stem cells switch off their cell-to-cell adhesion, become migratory, and take up new positions within an embryo where they again activate specific cell adhesion proteins and form new tissues and organs. Several examples that illustrate the roles of morphogens, transcription factors and cell adhesion molecules in morphogenesis are discussed below. A morphogen is a substance governing the pattern of tissue development and, in particular, the positions of the various specialized cell types within a tissue. ... In biochemistry, a receptor is a protein on the cell membrane or within the cytoplasm or cell nucleus that binds to a specific molecule (a ligand), such as a neurotransmitter, hormone, or other substance, and initiates the cellular response to the ligand. ... In molecular biology, a transcription factor is a protein that binds DNA at a specific promoter or enhancer region or site, where it regulates transcription. ... The structure of part of a DNA double helix Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions for the development and function of living organisms. ... For a non-technical introduction to the topic, see Introduction to Genetics. ... A micrograph of ongoing gene transcription of ribosomal RNA illustrating the growing primary transcripts. ... Schematic of cell adhesion The study of cell adhesion is part of cell biology. ... Mouse embryonic stem cells with fluorescent marker. ... In molecular biology, a transcription factor is a protein that binds DNA at a specific promoter or enhancer region or site, where it regulates transcription. ...

Cellular basis

Morphogenesis arises because of changes in the cellular structure. Certain cell types sort out. The ability of cells to do this comes from differential changes in cellular structure. There are two types of cells epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells. By changing from one cell type to another, cells are able to move around and associate with other like cells. In zootomy, epithelium is a tissue composed of a layer of cells. ...


Cells sort out in different layers due to the differential adhesion model or thermodynamic model. This model states that cells sort based upon differences in adhesion between the cells. Cells that move to the center of a mixed aggregate of cells have the strongest adhesion.

The molecules responsible for adhesion are called cell adhesion molecules (CAMs). Several types of cell adhesion molecules are known and one major class of these molecules are cadherins. Cadherins are a calcium dependent transmembrane protein that connects to the actin cytoskeleton through binding to trimeric proteins made up of a, b, and g catenins. Cadherins bind to other cadherins in a like-like manner (E-cadherins bind to other E-cadherins) or homophilic interactions. Cadherins are a class of proteins which are expressed on the surface of cells. ...

Extracellular Matrix

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is involved with separating tissues, providing structural support or providing a structure for cells to migrate on. Collagen, laminin, and fibronectin are the major molecules and are secreted and assembled into sheets, fibers and gels. Multisubunit transmembrane receptors called integrins are used to bind to the ECM. Integrins bind extracellularly to fibronectin, laminin or other ECM components and intracellularly to microfilament binding proteins a-actinin and talin to link the cytoskeleton with the outside. Integrins also serve as receptors to trigger signal transduction cascades when binding to the ECM. In biology, extracellular matrix (ECM) is any material part of a tissue that is not part of any cell. ... An integrin, or integrin receptor, is an integral membrane protein in the plasma membrane of cells. ...

Anterior-posterior axis patterning in Drosophila

One of the best understood morphogenetic systems is the patterning along the future head to tail (antero-posterior) axis of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The development of Drosophila is particularly well studied, and it is representative of a major class of animals, the insects or insecta. Other multicellular organisms sometimes use similar mechanisms for axis formation, although the relative importance of signal transfer between the earliest cells of many developing organisms is greater than in the example described here. Binomial name Drosophila melanogaster Meigen, 1830 [1] Drosophila melanogaster (from the Greek for black-bellied dew-lover) is a two-winged insect that belongs to the Diptera, the order of the flies. ... Orders Subclass Apterygota Symphypleona - globular springtails Subclass Archaeognatha (jumping bristletails) Subclass Dicondylia Monura - extinct Thysanura (common bristletails) Subclass Pterygota Diaphanopteroidea - extinct Palaeodictyoptera - extinct Megasecoptera - extinct Archodonata - extinct Ephemeroptera (mayflies) Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) Infraclass Neoptera Blattodea (cockroaches) Mantodea (mantids) Isoptera (termites) Zoraptera Grylloblattodea Dermaptera (earwigs) Plecoptera (stoneflies) Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets...

Maternal effect genes

Figure 1. mRNA distributions.
Figure 2. Protein distributions.

The building-blocks of anterior-posterior axis patterning in Drosophila are laid out during egg formation (oogenesis), well before the egg is fertilized and deposited. The developing egg (oocyte) is polarized by differentially localized mRNA molecules. Image File history File links Maternal_effect_mRNAs. ... Image File history File links Concentration gradients of key proteins inside early Drosophila embryos. ... Oogenesis or rarely oögenesis is the creation of an ovum (egg cell). ... An oocyte or ovocyte is a female gametocyte or germ cell involved in reproduction. ... The interaction of mRNA in a eukaryote cell. ...

The genes that code for these mRNAs, called maternal effect genes, encode for proteins that get translated upon fertilization to establish concentration gradients that span the egg. Bicoid and hunchback are the maternal effect genes that are most important for patterning of anterior parts (head and thorax) of the Drosophila embryo. Nanos and Caudal are maternal effect genes that are important in the formation of more posterior abdominal segments of the Drosophila embryo.

Cytoskeletal elements such as microtubules are polarized within the oocyte and can be used to allow the localization of mRNA molecules to specific parts of the cell. Maternally synthesized bicoid mRNAs attach to microtubules and are concentrated at the anterior ends of forming Drosophila eggs. Nanos mRNAs also attach to the egg cytoskeleton but they concentrate at the posterior ends of the eggs. Hunchback and caudal mRNAs lack special location control systems and are fairly evenly spread throughout the interior of egg cells. The eukaryotic cytoskeleton. ... Microtubules are one of the components of the cytoskeleton. ...

When the mRNAs from the maternal effect genes are translated into proteins a Bicoid protein gradient forms at the anterior end of the egg. Nanos protein forms a gradient at the posterior end. The Bicoid protein blocks translation of caudal mRNA so Caudal protein is made only in the posterior part of the cell. Nanos protein binds to the hunchback mRNA and blocks its translation in the posterior end of Drosophila embryos. Look up translate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

The Bicoid, Hunchback, and Caudal proteins are transcription factors. Bicoid has a DNA-binding homeodomain that binds both DNA and the nanos mRNA. Bicoid binds a specific RNA sequence in the 3' untranslated region of caudal mRNA and blocks translation. In the context of genetics, a transcription factor is a regulatory protein that initiates the transcription of certain genes upon binding with DNA. The binding of a transcription factor to a specific DNA sequence can result in either an increased rate of transcription of the gene, known as activated transcription... A homeobox is a DNA sequence found within genes that are involved in the regulation of development (morphogenesis) of animals, fungi and plants. ... In genetics, the 3 UTR (read as 3 prime untranslated region) is a particular section of messenger RNA (mRNA). ...

Hunchback protein levels in the early embryo are significantly augmented by new hunchback gene transcription and translation of the resulting zygotically produced mRNA. During early Drosophila embryogenesis there are nuclear divisions without cell division. The many nuclei that are produced distribute themselves around the periphery of the cell cytoplasm. Gene expression in these nuclei is regulated by the Bicoid, Hunchback, and Caudal proteins. For example, Bicoid acts as a transcriptional activator of hunchback gene transcription. It has been suggested that Biparental zygote be merged into this article or section. ...

Figure 3. bicoid gradient
Figure 3. bicoid gradient
Figure 4. nanos gradient
Figure 4. nanos gradient

Image File history File links Bicoid_gradient. ... Image File history File links Nanos_gradient. ...

Gap genes

Figure 5. Gap genes.

The other important function of the gradients of Bicoid, Hunchback, and Caudal proteins is in the transcriptional regulation of other zygotically expressed proteins. Many of these are the protein products derived from members of the "gap" family of developmental control genes. Hunchback, krüppel, giant, tailless and knirps are all gap genes. Their expression patterns in the early embryo are determined by the maternal effect gene products and shown in the diagrams on the right side of this page. The gap genes are part of a larger family called the segmentation genes. These genes establish the segmented body plan of the embryo along the anterior-posterior axis. The segmentation genes specify 14 "parasegments" that are closely related to the final anatomical segments. The gap genes are the first layer of a hierarchical cascade of the segmentation control genes. Image File history File links Gap_ene_expression. ...

Proteins such as Bicoid can be described as morphogens that act within the syncytial blastoderm of the early Drosophila embryo. These intracellular morphogens enter the nuclei and act as transcription factors to control expression of the gap genes. In biology, a syncytium is a large region of cytoplasm that contains many nuclei. ...

In the blastoderm stage of Drosophila morphogenesis four types of nuclear specification can be distinguished:

  • Anterior (head and thorax)
  • Posterior (abdomen)
  • Dorso-ventral
  • Terminal (special structures at the unsegmented ends of the embryo)

In anatomy, the dorsum is the upper or back side of an animal, as opposed to the ventrum. ... In zootomy, several terms are used to describe the location of organs and other structures in the body of bilateral animals. ...

Additional segmentation genes

Figure 6. Pair rule.
Figure 6. Pair rule.

Two additional classes of segmentation genes are expressed after the gap gene products. The pair-rule genes are expressed in striped patterns of seven bands perpendicular to the anterior-posterior axis (see Figure 6, even-skipped). These patterns of expression are established within the syncytial blastoderm. After these initial patterning events, cell membranes form around the nuclei of the syncytial blastoderm converting it to a cellular blastoderm. Pair-rule and segment polarity gene patterns for Drosophila. ...

Figure 7. Reciprocal signaling between Wingless and Hedgehog producing cells.
Figure 7. Reciprocal signaling between Wingless and Hedgehog producing cells.

The expression patterns of the final class of segmentation genes, the segment polarity genes, are then fine-tuned by interactions between the cells of adjacent parasegments (see the example, engrailed, Figure 7). The Engrailed protein is a transcription factor (yellow in Figure 7) that is expressed in one row of cells at the edge of each parasegment. This expression pattern is initiated by the pair-rule genes (like even-skipped) that code for transcription factors that regulate the engrailed gene's transcription in the syncytial blastoderm. Image File history File links Wingless. ...

Cells that make Engrailed can make the cell-to-cell signaling protein Hedgehog (green in Figure 7). Hedgehog is not free to move very far and activates a thin stripe of cells adjacent to the Engrailed-expressing cells. Only cells to one side of the Engrailed-expressing cells are competent to respond to Hedgehog because they express the receptor protein Patched (blue in Figure 7). Cells with activated Patch receptor make the Wingless protein (red in Figure 7). Wingless protein acts the adjacent rows of cells by activated its cell surface receptor, Frizzled. The hedgehog signaling pathway is one of the key regulators of animal development conserved from flies to humans. ...

Wingless also acts on Engrailed-expressing cells to stabilize Engrailed expression after the cellular blastoderm forms. The reciprocal signaling by Hedgehog and Wingless stabilizes the boundary between each segment. The Wingless protein is called "wingless" because of the phenotype of some wingless mutants. Wingless also functioned during metamorphosis to coordinate wing formation. Individuals in the mollusk species Donax variabilis show diverse coloration and patterning in their phenotypes. ... A Pieris rapae larva An older Pieris rapae larva A Pieris rapae pupa A Pieris rapae adult Metamorphosis is a process in biology by which an individual physically develops after birth or hatching, and involves significant change in form as well as growth and differentiation. ...

The transcription factors that are coded for by segmentation genes regulate yet another family of developmental control genes, the homeotic selector genes. These genes exist in two ordered groups on Drosophila chromosome 3. The order of the genes on the chromosome reflects the order that they are expressed along the anterior-posterior axis of the developing embryo. The Antennapedia group of homeotic selector genes includes labial, antennapedia, sex combs reduced, deformed, and proboscipedia. Labial and Deformed proteins are expressed in head segments where they activate the genes that define head features. Sex-combs-reduced and Antennapedia specify the properties of thoracic segments. The bithorax group of homeotic selector genes control the specializations of the third thoracic segment and the abdominal segments.

In 1995, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded for studies concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development to Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Edward B. Lewis and Eric Wieschaus. Their researches on genetic screening for embryo patterning mutants revealed the role played in early embryologic development by Homeobox genes like bicoid. An example of a homeotic mutation is the so-called antennapedia mutation. In Drosophila, antennae and legs are created by the same basic "program", they only differ in a single transcription factor. If this transcription factor is damaged, the fly grows legs on its head instead of antennae. See images of this "antennapedia" mutant and others, at FlyBase. Year 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full 1995 Gregorian calendar). ... List of Nobel Prize laureates in Physiology or Medicine from 1901 to the present day. ... Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (born October 20, 1942 in Magdeburg) is a German biologist who won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1991 and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995, together with Eric Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis, for their research on the genetic... Edward B. Lewis (May 20, 1918 – July 21, 2004) was an American geneticist, the winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Medicine. ... Eric F. Wieschaus (born June 8, 1947) is an American developmental biologist and Nobel Prize-winner. ... A homeobox is a stretch of DNA sequence found in genes involved in the regulation of the development (morphogenesis) of animals, fungi and plants. ...

The term morphogenesis can also be used to describe the development of unicellular life forms that do not have an embryonic stage in their life cycle, or to refer to the evolution of a body structure within a taxonomic group. Morphogenetic responses may be induced in organisms by hormones, or by environmental chemicals ranging from substances produced by other organisms to toxic chemicals or radionuclides released as pollutants, and other plants. This article is about evolution in biology. ... Look up taxonomy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Norepinephrine A hormone (from Greek όρμή - to set in motion) is a chemical messenger from one cell (or group of cells) to another. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... A radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Epidermal morphogenesis (7981 words)
Morphogenesis is the development of form, of tissues, of organs, and of organisms.
Morphogenesis of post-embryonic organs such as the gonad, vulva, and male tail, is described in the Sex determination section of WormBook.
Morphogenesis of the epidermis involves both autonomously generated changes in epidermal cell shape and position, and interactions with internal tissues, including the developing nervous system and body wall muscles.
  More results at FactBites »



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