Frontiers in Physiology: Understanding Multicellularity – The Functional Organization of the Intercellular Space

Multicellularity exists in all domains of life, spanning from microbial biofilms to plans and metazoans. Clearly multicellularity offers many advantages (increase in size, division of labor, increased complexity), but also comes with a number of challenges (control and coordination of cells, availability of nutrients and signaling molecules,…).

A number of publications have looked at the solutions found by living organisms to counter the problems of multicellularity. Practically all of those studies have taken a cell-center point of view in their analysis. The authors of this article argue that seeing cells as the only actors in multicellularity has led to the omission of some fundamental features. In order to fully understand multicellular forms of life, the authors claim that the intercellular space has to be taken into account. By this they mean not only considering the space in which cells operate, and how they specify it, but also how the organization of space, in turn, has a direct influence on cell fate and behavior. Read more here.