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Bioessays. 2012 Jul;34(7):542-50. doi: 10.1002/bies.201100172. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

Short-term information processing, long-term responses: Insights by mathematical modeling of signal transduction. Early activation dynamics of key signaling mediators can be predictive for cell fate decisions.

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  • 1Division Systems Biology of Signal Transduction, DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.


How do cells interpret information from their environment and translate it into specific cell fate decisions? We propose that cell fate is already encoded in early signaling events and thus can be predicted from defined signal properties. Specifically, we hypothesize that the time integral of activated key signaling molecules can be correlated to cellular behavior such as proliferation or differentiation. The identification of these decisive key signal mediators and their connection to cell fate is facilitated by mathematical modeling. A possible mechanistic linkage between signaling dynamics and cellular function is the directed control of gene regulatory networks by defined signals. Targeted experiments in combination with mathematical modeling can increase our understanding of how cells process information and realize distinct cell fates.

Copyright © 2012 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.

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