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Modeling Tissue Polarity in Context


Polarity is critical for development and tissue-specific function. However, the acquisition and maintenance of tissue polarity is context dependent. Thus, cell and tissue polarity depend on cell adhesion which is regulated by the cytoskeleton and influenced by the biochemical composition of the extracellular microenvironment and modified by biomechanical cues within the tissue. These biomechanical cues include fluid flow induced shear stresses, cell-density and confinement-mediated compression, and cellular actomyosin tension intrinsic to the tissue or induced in response to morphogens or extracellular matrix stiffness. Here, we discuss how extracellular matrix stiffness and fluid flow influence cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion and alter cytoskeletal organization to modulate cell and tissue polarity. We describe model systems that when combined with state of the art molecular screens and high-resolution imaging can be used to investigate how force modulates cell and tissue polarity.

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