TitleMorphogenesis at criticality.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKrotov, D, Dubuis, JO, Gregor, T, Bialek, W
JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Date Published2014 Mar 11
KeywordsAnimals, Biological Evolution, DNA-Binding Proteins, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Embryo, Nonmammalian, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Gene Regulatory Networks, Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors, Models, Biological, Morphogenesis, Thermodynamics, Transcription Factors

Spatial patterns in the early fruit fly embryo emerge from a network of interactions among transcription factors, the gap genes, driven by maternal inputs. Such networks can exhibit many qualitatively different behaviors, separated by critical surfaces. At criticality, we should observe strong correlations in the fluctuations of different genes around their mean expression levels, a slowing of the dynamics along some but not all directions in the space of possible expression levels, correlations of expression fluctuations over long distances in the embryo, and departures from a Gaussian distribution of these fluctuations. Analysis of recent experiments on the gap gene network shows that all these signatures are observed, and that the different signatures are related in ways predicted by theory. Although there might be other explanations for these individual phenomena, the confluence of evidence suggests that this genetic network is tuned to criticality.

Alternate JournalProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.