Morphogen gradient formation and vesicular trafficking

Traffic. 2002 Feb;3(2):98-109. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0854.2002.030203.x.


Morphogens are secreted signaling molecules which form spatial concentration gradients while moving away from a restricted source of production. A simple model of gradient formation postulates that the morphogens dilute as they diffuse between cells. In this review we discuss recent data supporting the idea that movement of the morphogen could also occur via vesicular trafficking through the cells. We explore the implications of these results for the control of gradient formation and the determination of the gradient slope which ultimately encodes the coordinates of positional information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport*
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Dynamins
  • Endosomes
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • Xenopus
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • dpp protein, Drosophila
  • wg protein, Drosophila
  • Activins
  • hh protein, Drosophila
  • rab7 protein
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Dynamins