Progenitor Epithelium: Sorting Out Pancreatic Lineages.
Branching morphogenesis is an important mechanism of animal development yet, until recently, most details about this highly dynamic process have had to be inferred from fixed tissues. Several groups have now developed transgenic animals in which branching tubules express fluorescent proteins, enabling their morphogenesis to be studied dynamically using time-lapse microscopy. The results have shown that branch emergence is highly variable, that sprouting tracheae and blood vessels guide themselves by filopodial projections, that branching morphogenesis can involve highly ordered cell rearrangements, and that branches are subject to intense remodelling. Though they are very new, these fluorescent systems have already expanded our knowledge of branching morphogenesis; future work, in which fluorescence might be used to report processes in addition to anatomy, promises an even greater advance.