Temporal dynamics of patterning by morphogen gradients

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2009 Aug;19(4):315-22. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2009.05.004. Epub 2009 Jul 10.


Morphogens act as graded positional cues to control cell fate specification in many developing tissues. This concept, in which a signaling gradient regulates differential gene expression in a concentration-dependent manner, has received considerable experimental support. Nevertheless, several recent studies have challenged the straightforward model of morphogen activity. In particular, the observation that pattern formation is a dynamic process has raised questions about the influence of time on morphogen activity. Here we propose that the spatiotemporal dynamics of the cellular response to a morphogen gradient depend on a combination of temporal alterations to the morphogen gradient itself, the dynamics of its signal transduction and downstream interactions between target genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Time Factors