The patterning of multicellular organisms is robust to environmental, genetic, or stochastic fluctuations. Mathematical modeling is instrumental in identifying mechanisms supporting this robustness. The principle of lateral inhibition, whereby a differentiating cell inhibits its neighbors from adopting the same fate, is frequently used for selecting a single cell out of a cluster of equipotent cells. For example, Sensory Organ Precursors (SOP) in the fruit-fly Drosophila implement lateral inhibition by activating the Notch-Delta pathway. We discuss parameters affecting the rate of errors in this process, and the mechanism (inhibitory cis interaction between Notch and Delta) predicted to reduce this error.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.