Collective Epithelial Migration and Cell Rearrangements Drive Mammary Branching Morphogenesis

Andrew J. Ewald, Audrey Brenot, Myhanh Duong, Bianca S. Chan, Zena Werb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

434 Scopus citations


Epithelial organs are built through the movement of groups of interconnected cells. We observed cells in elongating mammary ducts reorganize into a multilayered epithelium, migrate collectively, and rearrange dynamically, all without forming leading cellular extensions. Duct initiation required proliferation, Rac, and myosin light-chain kinase, whereas repolarization to a bilayer depended on Rho kinase. We observed that branching morphogenesis results from the active motility of both luminal and myoepithelial cells. Luminal epithelial cells advanced collectively, whereas myoepithelial cells appeared to restrain elongating ducts. Significantly, we observed that normal epithelium and neoplastic hyperplasias are organized similarly, suggesting common mechanisms of epithelial growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-581
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 15 2008




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