The vertebrate liver presents a fascinating case study for how cell form is optimized for function. To execute its duties the liver assembles two distinct lumen-forming epithelial phenotypes: Firstly, cords with a branched, capillary-like luminal network formed between hepatocytes (bile canaliculi); and secondly, tubular ducts formed by biliary epithelial cells arranged around a central cavity and connected to the bile canaliculi. How these remarkably different epithelial polarity phenotypes are generated and joined into a contiguous luminal network are major unresolved questions. Recent studies have characterized the divergence of the two epithelial lineages from common progenitors, described the coordination of bile canaliculi formation with bile duct branching during biliary tree morphogenesis and implicated RhoA-dependent E-cadherin adhesion in the decision to polarize with hepatocytic or biliary phenotype.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology