One shall become two: Separation of the esophagus and trachea from the common foregut tube.
The alimentary and respiratory organ systems arise from a common endodermal origin, the anterior foregut tube. Formation of the esophagus from the dorsal region and the trachea from the ventral region of the foregut primordium occurs by means of a poorly understood compartmentalization process. Disruption of this process can result in severe birth defects, such as esophageal atresia and tracheo-esphageal fistula (EA/TEF), in which the lumina of the trachea and esophagus remain connected. Here we summarize the signaling networks known to be necessary for regulating dorsoventral patterning within the common foregut tube and cellular behaviors that may occur during normal foregut compartmentalization. We propose that dorsoventral patterning serves to establish a lateral region of the foregut tube that is capable of undergoing specialized cellular rearrangements, culminating in compartmentalization. We review established as well as new rodent models that may be useful in addressing this hypothesis. Finally, we discuss new experimental models that could help elucidate the mechanism behind foregut compartmentalization. An integrated approach to future foregut morphogenesis research will allow for a better understanding of this complex process.
Billmyre, KK; Hutson, M; Klingensmith, J
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