Visualizing and Manipulating Temporal Signaling Dynamics with Fluorescence-Based Tools

Sci. Signal.  01 Apr 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 319, pp. re1
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005077

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The use of genome-wide proteomic and RNA interference approaches has moved our understanding of signal transduction from linear pathways to highly integrated networks centered on core nodes. However, probing the dynamics of flow of information through such networks remains technically challenging. In particular, how the temporal dynamics of an individual pathway can elicit distinct outcomes in a single cell type and how multiple pathways may interact sequentially or synchronously to influence cell fate remain open questions in many contexts. The development of fluorescence-based reporters and optogenetic regulators of pathway activity enables the analysis of signaling in living cells and organisms with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution and holds the promise of addressing these key questions. We present a brief overview of the evidence for the importance of temporal dynamics in cellular regulation, introduce these fluorescence-based tools, and highlight specific studies that leveraged these tools to probe the dynamics of information flow through signaling networks. In particular, we highlight two studies in Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neurons and cultured mammalian cells that demonstrate the importance of signal dynamics in determining cellular responses.

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