An atlas of gene regulatory networks reveals multiple three-gene mechanisms for interpreting morphogen gradients

James Cotterell, James Sharpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The interpretation of morphogen gradients is a pivotal concept in developmental biology, and several mechanisms have been proposed to explain how gene regulatory networks (GRNs) achieve concentration-dependent responses. However, the number of different mechanisms that may exist for cells to interpret morphogens, and the importance of design features such as feedback or local cell-cell communication, is unclear. A complete understanding of such systems will require going beyond a case-by-case analysis of real morphogen interpretation mechanisms and mapping out a complete GRN 'design space.' Here, we generate a first atlas of design space for GRNs capable of patterning a homogeneous field of cells into discrete gene expression domains by interpreting a fixed morphogen gradient. We uncover multiple very distinct mechanisms distributed discretely across the atlas, thereby expanding the repertoire of morphogen interpretation network motifs. Analyzing this diverse collection of mechanisms also allows us to predict that local cell-cell communication will rarely be responsible for the basic dose-dependent response of morphogen interpretation networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425
JournalMolecular Systems Biology
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2010

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Communication
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Drosophila
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Signal Transduction
  • Systems Biology

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