Stocum, David L. Department of Genetics and Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois.
- Axial polarity
- Determination of pattern
- Morphogenetic fields and positional information
- Cell matrix and adhesivity
- Differential growth
- Cell death
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The development of form and pattern in animals. Animals have complex shapes and structural patterns that are faithfully reproduced during the embryonic development of each generation. Morphogenesis is a higher outcome of the process of differentiation, defined as the progressive structural and functional diversification and specialization of cells, and recognizable by specific molecular markers and morphological and histological organization. Differentiation is precisely patterned in space to create a three-dimensional functional tissue organization. The process by which this takes place is called pattern formation. Morphogenesis, differentiation, and pattern formation are related: Morphogenesis is accomplished via a complex series of individual and group cell movements called morphogenetic movements. The cell differentiations that lead to these movements are preterminal differentiations that result in coordinated changes in individual cell shape, adhesion, and motility, as well as production of extracellular matrix. The terminal differentiation of cells in the spatial patterns that define tissue relationships within organs and appendages takes place after morphogenetic movements cease, and serves to further refine the shapes generated by these movements. The starting point for these events is a single cell, the fertilized egg, or zygote, that divides repeatedly to form a multicellular embryo capable of carrying out the series of patterned differentiations leading to the morphogenetic movements that shape the embryo. See also: Animal growth; Developmental biology; Embryonic differentiation; Molecular biology
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