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Notch Aids Oscillation Synchrony

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Science's STKE  28 Nov 2000:
Vol. 2000, Issue 60, pp. tw3
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2000.60.tw3

Segmentation of the vertebrate body occurs in a regimented process involving discrete somite patterning. Frequently, Notch mutations disrupt the segmentation process, but just what the normal function of Notch is remains unknown. Jiang et al. exploited the observation that somite development occurs faster in warmer temperatures and subjected opposite sides of developing Zebrafish to warm and cool temperatures. Their observations revealed that the expression of deltaC (a ligand for Notch) in developing somites occurred in cycles and that phase patterns in somite development also occurred cyclically. Additionally, deltaC expression in the presomitic mesoderm of somitogenesis mutants was dysregulated in adjacent cells, suggesting that synchronous expression of deltaC was lost. Nonetheless, oscillations still occurred, suggesting that Notch signaling (through DeltaC) is required for maintaining synchronous oscillations in adjacent cells, but not required for individual cell oscillation.

Jiang, Y.-J., Aerne, B.L., Smithers, L., Haddon, C., Ish-Horowicz, and Lewis, J. (2000) Notch signaling and the synchronization of the somite segmentation clock. Nature 408: 475-479. [Online Journal]