Signalling dynamics in vertebrate segmentation

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Nov;15(11):709-21. doi: 10.1038/nrm3891.


Segmentation of the paraxial mesoderm is a major event of vertebrate development that establishes the metameric patterning of the body axis. This process involves the periodic formation of sequential units, termed somites, from the presomitic mesoderm. Somite formation relies on a molecular oscillator, the segmentation clock, which controls the rhythmic activation of several signalling pathways and leads to the oscillatory expression of a subset of genes in the presomitic mesoderm. The response to the periodic signal of the clock, leading to the establishment of the segmental pre-pattern, is gated by a system of travelling signalling gradients, often referred to as the wavefront. Recent studies have advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the generation of oscillations and how they interact and are coordinated to activate the segmental gene expression programme.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / genetics
  • Body Patterning
  • CLOCK Proteins / genetics
  • CLOCK Proteins / metabolism
  • Embryonic Development / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Humans
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / embryology
  • Mesoderm / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Vertebrates / embryology
  • Vertebrates / genetics
  • Vertebrates / metabolism*
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism


  • Receptors, Notch
  • Wnt Proteins
  • CLOCK Proteins