Notch pathway: a bistable inducer of biological noise?

Cell Commun Signal. 2019 Oct 22;17(1):133. doi: 10.1186/s12964-019-0453-0.


Notch signalling pathway is central to development of metazoans. The pathway codes a binary fate switch. Upon activation, downstream signals contribute to resolution of fate dichotomies such as proliferation/differentiation or sub-lineage differentiation outcome. There is, however, an interesting paradox in the Notch signalling pathway. Despite remarkable predictability of fate outcomes instructed by the Notch pathway, the associated transcriptome is versatile and plastic. This inconsistency suggests the presence of an interface that compiles input from the plastic transcriptome of the Notch pathway but communicates only a binary output in biological decisions. Herein, we address the interface that determines fate outcomes. We provide an alternative hypothesis for the Notch pathway as a biological master switch that operates by induction of genetic noise and bistability in order to facilitate resolution of dichotomous fate outcomes in development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • G1 Phase
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • S Phase
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcriptome


  • Receptors, Notch