TitleDoes the potential for chaos constrain the embryonic cell-cycle oscillator?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsR McIsaac, S, Huang, KCasey, Sengupta, A, Wingreen, NS
JournalPLoS Comput Biol
Date Published2011 Jul
KeywordsAnimals, Calcium, Calcium Signaling, Cell Cycle, Cell Division, Embryo, Nonmammalian, Fertilization, Models, Biological, Xenopus laevis

Although many of the core components of the embryonic cell-cycle network have been elucidated, the question of how embryos achieve robust, synchronous cellular divisions post-fertilization remains unexplored. What are the different schemes that could be implemented by the embryo to achieve synchronization? By extending a cell-cycle model previously developed for embryos of the frog Xenopus laevis to include the spatial dimensions of the embryo, we establish a novel role for the rapid, fertilization-initiated calcium wave that triggers cell-cycle oscillations. Specifically, in our simulations a fast calcium wave results in synchronized cell cycles, while a slow wave results in full-blown spatio-temporal chaos. We show that such chaos would ultimately lead to an unpredictable patchwork of cell divisions across the embryo. Given this potential for chaos, our results indicate a novel design principle whereby the fast calcium-wave trigger following embryo fertilization synchronizes cell divisions.

Alternate JournalPLoS Comput. Biol.