Cell sorting out: the self-assembly of tissues in vitro. Academic Article uri icon


  • The question posed by the science of analytical histology is how the properties and interactions of the components of the tissues determine their organization in the organs. The relevant components of the tissues are the cells and the extracellular matrix. The ability of cohering populations of cells to self-assemble structured tissues by cell sorting out offers an important opportunity for the experimental study of the mechanisms by which the cells and extracellular matrix interact to determine structure. The investigator can manipulate the initial organization and the cellular composition of the system and, in favorable situations, the composition of the extracellular matrix and the activities of candidate adhesive molecules. It can reasonably be expected that the recent progress in the characterization of the molecular species involved in cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interaction will allow the analysis of the molecular basis of tissue organization, with study of the self-assembly of tissue structure during sorting out playing an important role in this analysis. The importance of the differential adhesion hypothesis is its success in describing the rules by which macroscopic tissue structure is governed by the adhesive interactions of cell with cell and cell with extracellular matrix. The DAH describes how the physical forces of cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion determine structure. Elucidation of the particular adhesive molecules involved in these interactions (e.g., the CAMs, junctional proteins, and matrix adhesion molecules) will yield an explanation at the biochemical level. A complete understanding of structure requires both levels of explanation.

publication date

  • 1989