Editors' ChoiceDevelopmental Biology

How Do Fingers Know Where to Grow?

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Science Signaling  05 Aug 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 337, pp. ec209
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005754

Most researchers today believe that each finger forms because of its unique position within the early limb bud. However, 30 years ago, developmental biologists proposed that the arrangement of fingers followed the Turing pattern, a self-organizing process during early embryo development. Raspopovic et al. provide evidence to support a Turing mechanism (see the Perspective by Zuniga and Zeller). They reveal that Bmp and Wnt signaling pathways, together with the gene Sox9, form a Turing network. The authors used this network to generate a computer model capable of accurately reproducing the patterns that cells follow as the embryo grows fingers.

J. Raspopovic, L. Marcon, L. Russo, J. Sharpe, Digit patterning is controlled by a Bmp-Sox9-Wnt Turing network modulated by morphogen gradients. Science 345, 566–570 (2014). [Abstract][Full Text]

A. Zuniga, R. Zeller, In Turing’s hands—the making of digits. Science 345, 516–517 (2014). [Abstract][Full Text]