Editors' ChoiceDevelopmental Biology

Mighty Morphogen Power Gradients

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Science's STKE  30 Oct 2001:
Vol. 2001, Issue 106, pp. tw401
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2001.106.tw401

Morphogens are factors that influence the development of cells into organized clusters or patterns. Cells can detect their position in gradients of morphogen concentration within the broader context of surrounding cells and differentiate appropriately. Gurdon and Bourillot review the ways in which cells perceive and interpret morphogen gradients. Essential to the cell response is whether the concentration of a morphogen has reached a critical threshold and whether the cell has the appropriate signaling proteins (in appropriate amounts) to respond to the morphogen by differentiating. The authors also raise the intriguing question of how cells respond when the morphogen gradients themselves change over time.

J. B. Gurdon, P.-Y. Bourillot, Morphogen gradient interpretation. Nature 413, 797-803, (2001). [Online Journal]

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