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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2009 Sep;20(7):877-84. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2009.07.009. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

Origin and function of fluctuations in cell behaviour and the emergence of patterns.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EH, UK.


Morphogenesis is the process whereby cells assemble into tissues and organs. Recent studies of this process have revealed heterogeneity of individual cell behaviours that contrasts with the deterministic activity of tissues as a whole. Here we review these observations and suggest that fluctuations and heterogeneities are a central substrate for morphogenesis and that there might exist mechanisms dedicated to the averaging of these fluctuations to ensure robust and reproducible behaviours at the tissue level.

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