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Published December 2022 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Periodic spatial patterning with a single morphogen


During multicellular development, periodic spatial patterning systems generate repetitive structures, such as digits, vertebrae, and teeth. Turing patterning provides a foundational paradigm for understanding such systems. The simplest Turing systems are believed to require at least two morphogens to generate periodic patterns. Here, using mathematical modeling, we show that a simpler circuit, including only a single diffusible morphogen, is sufficient to generate long-range, spatially periodic patterns that propagate outward from transient initiating perturbations and remain stable after the perturbation is removed. Furthermore, an additional bistable intracellular feedback or operation on a growing cell lattice can make patterning robust to noise. Together, these results show that a single morphogen can be sufficient for robust spatial pattern formation and should provide a foundation for engineering pattern formation in the emerging field of synthetic developmental biology.

Additional Information

© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) M.B.E. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. This research was supported by the Allen Discovery Center program under award no. UWSC10142, a Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group advised program of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. J.G.-O. was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and FEDER, under project PGC2018-101251-B-I00, by the "Maria de Maeztu" Programme for Units of Excellence in R&D (grant CEX2018-000792-M), and by the Generalitat de Catalunya. We acknowledge insightful feedback from Elowitz lab members. We previously granted a CC BY 4.0 license to the public and a sublicensable license to HHMI in our research articles pursuant to which we have the right to make the author-accepted manuscript of our article immediately available upon publication, and any rights we grant in our research articles are subject to the public and HHMI licenses. Author contributions. Conceptualization and investigation, S.W., J.G.-O., and M.B.E.; formal analysis, software, and visualization, S.W.; writing: S.W., J.G.-O., and M.B.E. Data and code availability: • All data have been deposited at the CaltechDATA research data repository (https://doi.org/10.22002/4y293-6eg49) and are publicly available as of the date of publication. The DOI is listed in the key resources table. • All original code has been deposited at the CaltechDATA research data repository (https://doi.org/10.22002/4y293-6eg49) and is publicly available as of the date of publication. The DOI is listed in the key resources table. • Any additional information required to reanalyze the data reported in this paper is available from the lead contact upon request. The authors declare no competing interests.

Attached Files

Published - 1-s2.0-S2405471222004367-main.pdf

Supplemental Material - 1-s2.0-S2405471222004367-mmc1.pdf


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Additional details

August 22, 2023
December 22, 2023