Revealing epithelial morphogenetic mechanisms through live imaging.
Epithelial morphogenesis is guided by mechanical forces and biochemical signals that vary spatiotemporally. As many morphogenetic events are driven by rapid cellular processes, understanding morphogenesis requires monitoring development in real time. Here, we discuss how live-imaging approaches can help identify morphogenetic mechanisms otherwise missed in static snapshots of development. We begin with a summary of live-imaging strategies, including recent advances that push the limits of spatiotemporal resolution and specimen size. We then describe recent efforts that employ live imaging to uncover morphogenetic mechanisms. We conclude by discussing how information collected from live imaging can be enhanced by genetically encoded biosensors and spatiotemporal perturbation techniques to determine the dynamics of patterning of developmental signals and their importance for guiding morphogenesis.