Cell sociology: A way of reconsidering the current concepts of morphogenesis

Acta Biotheoretica 25 (2-3):71-102 (1976)
Abstract
Research in the field of planarian regeneration on the one hand, and a general survey of embryology on the other, throw doubt upon the reality of supra-cellular controls, which are still at the basis of all modern concepts of morphogenesis. The necessity of referring to such controls, which have never been convincingly demonstrated, is probably due to the fact that two aspects of cell behaviour have been underestimated: 1) the capacity of cells to change their individualities for a time independently of other cells; 2) the social behaviour of cells, which is the consequence of the reciprocal exchange of information. Pattern formation and pattern remodeling in normal development results from readjustments of cell populations to local or global changes. The common responses of cell populations to disturbances are enhanced mitotic activity, cessation of specific syntheses and cell migration. In the young embryo these may promptly restore the unity of the injured primordium, leading to so-called restitution; this is based on a normal sequence of further readjustments in the primordium. In older organisms the same responses give rise to cell interactions which may be the starting point for further sequential readjustments — in some instances these are comparable to those that originally organized the primordium in question during development. The desirability of giving up the notion of morphogenetic field is discussed
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