The evolution of signalling pathways in animal development

Nat Rev Genet. 2003 Jan;4(1):39-49. doi: 10.1038/nrg977.


Despite the bewildering number of cell types and patterns found in the animal kingdom, only a few signalling pathways are required to generate them. Most cell-cell interactions during embryonic development involve the Hedgehog, Wnt, transforming growth factor-beta, receptor tyrosine kinase, Notch, JAK/STAT and nuclear hormone pathways. Looking at how these pathways evolved might provide insights into how a few signalling pathways can generate so much cellular and morphological diversity during the development of individual organisms and the evolution of animal body plans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computational Biology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Gene Duplication
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic