Editors' ChoiceDevelopment

Cell Fate Control—A Numbers Game

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Science Signaling  24 Jun 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 331, pp. ec171
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005611

Precursor cells in adult mammalian tissues differentiate at very low rates; for example, only 10% of fat cells are replaced per year. If all precursor cells responded to the same threshold of stimulus, these low rates would not be possible. Noise in the system (variability in the abundance of key proteins in different cells) could allow only a few cells to differentiate, but then such variability would allow dedifferentiation as well, which is not observed. Ahrends et al. used computational modeling and protein measurements in single cells to show that multiple feedback loops in the regulatory circuits, along with noise, can allow both stable and infrequent differentiation.

R. Ahrends, A. Ota, K. M. Kovary, T. Kudo, B. O. Park, M. N. Teruel, Controlling low rates of cell differentiation through noise and ultrahigh feedback. Science 344, 1384–1389 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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