Budding behaviors: Growth of the limb as a model of morphogenesis



Questions regarding morphogenesis have played second fiddle to those pertaining to pattern formation among the limb development set for some time. A recent series of publications has reinvigorated the search for mechanisms by which the limb bud arises, elongates and acquires its peculiar shape. While there are stage-specific variations, the theme that resonates across these studies is that mesoderm and cartilage cells in the limb bud exhibit polarity that drives directional movement and oriented division. Noncanonical Wnt signalling is important for these cell behaviors at all stages of limb development. While the emerging morphogenetic mechanisms underlying limb bud outgrowth are partly analogous to those of other developing structures, insights from the limb have the potential to reveal intriguing new mechanisms by which three dimensional mesoderm changes shape. Developmental Dynamics 240:1054–1062, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.