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Science 322 (5907): 1506-1509

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Patterning Mechanisms of Branched Organs

Pengfei Lu, and Zena Werb*

Abstract: Branching morphogenesis is one of the earliest events essential for the success of metazoans. By branching out and forming cellular or tissue extensions, cells can maximize their surface area and overcome space constraints posed by organ size. Over the past decade, tremendous progress has been made toward understanding the branching mechanisms of various invertebrate and vertebrate organ systems. Despite their distinct origins, morphologies and functions, different cell and tissue types use a remarkably conserved set of tools to undergo branching morphogenesis. Recent studies have shed important light on the basis of molecular conservation in the formation of branched structures in diverse organs.

Department of Anatomy and Program in Developmental Biology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143–0452, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: zena.werb{at}

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