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Chemical waves in cell and developmental biology.

Authors
  • Deneke, Victoria E1
  • Di Talia, Stefano2
  • 1 Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.
  • 2 Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC [email protected]
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of Cell Biology
Publisher
The Rockefeller University Press
Publication Date
Apr 02, 2018
Volume
217
Issue
4
Pages
1193–1204
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201701158
PMID: 29317529
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Many biological events, such as the propagation of nerve impulses, the synchronized cell cycles of early embryogenesis, and collective cell migration, must be coordinated with remarkable speed across very large distances. Such rapid coordination cannot be achieved by simple diffusion of molecules alone and requires specialized mechanisms. Although active transport can provide a directed and efficient way to travel across subcellular structures, it cannot account for the most rapid examples of coordination found in biology. Rather, these appear to be driven by mechanisms involving traveling waves of chemical activities that are able to propagate information rapidly across biological or physical systems. Indeed, recent advances in our ability to probe the dynamics of signaling pathways are revealing many examples of coordination of cellular and developmental processes through traveling chemical waves. Here, we will review the theoretical principles underlying such waves; highlight recent literature on their role in different contexts, ranging from chemotaxis to development; and discuss open questions and future perspectives on the study of chemical waves as an essential feature of cell and tissue physiology.

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