Cellular and physical mechanisms of branching morphogenesis

Victor D. Varner, Celeste M. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Branching morphogenesis is the developmental program that builds the ramified epithelial trees of various organs, including the airways of the lung, the collecting ducts of the kidney, and the ducts of the mammary and salivary glands. Even though the final geometries of epithelial trees are distinct, the molecular signaling pathways that control branching morphogenesis appear to be conserved across organs and species. However, despite this molecular homology, recent advances in cell lineage analysis and real-time imaging have uncovered surprising differences in the mechanisms that build these diverse tissues. Here, we review these studies and discuss the cellular and physical mechanisms that can contribute to branching morphogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2750-2759
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Bifurcation
  • Mechanical stress
  • Pattern
  • Proliferation
  • Tension


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