Morphogenesis is the remarkable process by which cells self-assemble into complex tissues and organs that exhibit specialized form and function during embryological development. Many of the genes and chemical cues that mediate tissue and organ formation have been identified; however, these signals alone are not sufficient to explain how tissues and organs are constructed that exhibit their unique material properties and three-dimensional forms. Here, we review work that has revealed the central role that physical forces and extracellular matrix mechanics play in the control of cell fate switching, pattern formation, and tissue development in the embryo and how these same mechanical signals contribute to tissue homeostasis and developmental control throughout adult life.

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A Lecture in Cell and Developmental Biology: Mechanobiology and Developmental Control

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Donald E. Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute, Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, discusses the role of physical and mechanical forces in the control of cell development and disease, which he says is as important as chemicals and genes.

  • Article Type: Review Article
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