The emergence of geometric order in proliferating metazoan epithelia

Matthew C. Gibson, Ankit B. Patel, Radhika Nagpal, Norbert Perrimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

301 Scopus citations

Abstract

The predominantly hexagonal cell pattern of simple epithelia was noted in the earliest microscopic analyses of animal tissues, a topology commonly thought to reflect cell sorting into optimally packed honeycomb arrays. Here we use a discrete Markov model validated by time-lapse microscopy and clonal analysis to demonstrate that the distribution of polygonal cell types in epithelia is not a result of cell packing, but rather a direct mathematical consequence of cell proliferation. On the basis of in vivo analysis of mitotic cell junction dynamics in Drosophila imaginal discs, we mathematically predict the convergence of epithelial topology to a fixed equilibrium distribution of cellular polygons. This distribution is empirically confirmed in tissue samples from vertebrate, arthropod and cnidarian organisms, suggesting that a similar proliferation-dependent cell pattern underlies pattern formation and morphogenesis throughout the metazoa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1038-1041
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume442
Issue number7106
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 31 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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