Building branched tissue structures: From single cell guidance to coordinated construction

James W. Spurlin, Celeste M. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Branched networks are ubiquitous throughout nature, particularly found in tissues that require large surface area within a restricted volume. Many tissues with a branched architecture, such as the vasculature, kidney, mammary gland, lung and nervous system, function to exchange fluids, gases and information throughout the body of an organism. The generation of branched tissues requires regulation of branch site specification, initiation and elongation. Branching events often require the coordination of many cells to build a tissue network for material exchange. Recent evidence has emerged suggesting that cell cooperativity scales with the number of cells actively contributing to branching events. Here, we compare mechanisms that regulate branching, focusing on how cell cohorts behave in a coordinated manner to build branched tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20150527
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1720
StatePublished - May 19 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


  • Actomyosin
  • Branching motifs
  • Collective migration


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