Dynamic signal encoding--from cells to organisms

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2014 Oct;34:91-8. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2014.06.019. Epub 2014 Jul 5.


Encoding information at the level of signal dynamics is characterized by distinct features, such as robustness to noise and high information content. Currently, a growing number of studies are unravelling the functional importance of signalling dynamics at the single cell level. In addition, first insights are emerging into how the principles of dynamic signal encoding apply to a multicellular context, such as development. In this review, we will first discuss general concepts of information transmission via signalling dynamics and recent experimental examples focusing on underlying principles, including the role of intracellular network topologies. How multicellular organisms use temporal modulation of specific signalling pathways, such as signalling gradients or oscillations, to faithfully control cell fate decisions and pattern formation will also be addressed. Finally, we will consider how technical advancements in the detection and perturbation of signalling dynamics contribute to reshaping our understanding of dynamic signalling in developing organisms.

Keywords: Decoding; Development; Encoding; Information transmission; Patterning; Signalling dynamics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction*