Chapter 1 - Molecular Mechanisms of Liver Development: Lessons From Animal Models
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AbstractThe liver carries out vital functions of nutrient storage and redistribution, detoxification, and bile production. The liver consists mainly of parenchymal hepatocytes plus nonparenchymal cells such as cholangiocytes, liver sinusoidal endothelial cells, hepatic stellate cells, and mesothelial cells. Studies using mouse embryo explants, knockout mice, and liver cell-specific molecular markers have revealed various aspects of liver development. Signaling pathways governing hepatoblast differentiation into hepatocytes and cholangiocytes have been defined, as have the origins of mesothelial cells, stellate cells, and Kupffer cells. Molecular mechanisms of liver specification and three-dimensional body shape have been delineated using zebrafish and medaka fish mutants in experiments not possible in mice. Study of organ size control in murine liver has revealed the role in carcinogenesis of Hippo-YAP signaling. These knowledges have shed light on pathogenic mechanisms underlying human liver diseases such as Alagille syndrome. This chapter highlights molecular mechanisms of liver development learned from diverse animal models.

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