2019 Volume 16 Pages 89-107
Organs and tissues in multi-cellular organisms exhibit various morphologies. Tubular organs have multi-scale morphological features which are closely related to their functions. Here we discuss morphogenesis and the mechanical functions of the vertebrate oviduct in the female reproductive tract, also known as the fallopian tube. The oviduct functions to convey eggs from the ovary to the uterus. In the luminal side of the oviduct, the epithelium forms multiple folds (or ridges) well-aligned along the longitudinal direction of the tube. In the epithelial cells, cilia are formed orienting toward the downstream of the oviduct. The cilia and the folds are supposed to be involved in egg transportation. Planar cell polarity (PCP) is developed in the epithelium, and the disruption of the Celsr1 gene, a PCP related-gene, causes randomization of both cilia and fold orientations, discontinuity of the tube, inefficient egg transportation, and infertility. In this review article, we briefly introduce various biophysical and biomechanical issues in the oviduct, including physical mechanisms of formation of PCP and organized cilia orientation, epithelial cell shape regulation, fold pattern formation generated by mechanical buckling, tubulogenesis, and egg transportation regulated by fluid flow. We also mention about possible roles of the oviducts in egg shape formation and embryogenesis, sinuous patterns of tubes, and fold and tube patterns observed in other tubular organs such as the gut, airways, etc.