Special Reviews

Shaping the Vertebrate Body Plan by Polarized Embryonic Cell Movements

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Science  06 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5600, pp. 1950-1954
DOI: 10.1126/science.1079478

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Polarized cell movements shape the major features of the vertebrate body plan during development. The head-to-tail body axis of vertebrates is elongated in embryonic stages by “convergent extension” tissue movements. During these movements cells intercalate between one another transverse to the elongating body axis to form a narrower, longer array. Recent discoveries show that these polarized cell movements are controlled by homologs of genes that control the polarity of epithelial cells in the developing wing and eye of the fruit fly, Drosophila.

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