Building branched tissue structures: from single cell guidance to coordinated construction.
Branched networks are ubiquitous throughout nature, particularly found in tissues that require large surface area within a restricted volume. Many tissues with a branched architecture, such as the vasculature, kidney, mammary gland, lung and nervous system, function to exchange fluids, gases and information throughout the body of an organism. The generation of branched tissues requires regulation of branch site specification, initiation and elongation. Branching events often require the coordination of many cells to build a tissue network for material exchange. Recent evidence has emerged suggesting that cell cooperativity scales with the number of cells actively contributing to branching events. Here, we compare mechanisms that regulate branching, focusing on how cell cohorts behave in a coordinated manner to build branched tissues.This article is part of the themed issue 'Systems morphodynamics: understanding the development of tissue hardware'.