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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Sep 23;368(1629):20130117. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0117. Print 2013.

Adaptive molecular networks controlling chemotactic migration: dynamic inputs and selection of the network architecture.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Institute for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, , Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


Eukaryotic signalling networks underlying the cell's ability to sense the gradient of chemotactic cues frequently have the dual property of perfect adaptation to spatially homogeneous inputs, and persistent activation by inputs that are spatially graded. This property is also shared by bacterial chemotaxis networks, raising the question of whether these two types of chemotactic processes also have similar organization of the underlying biomolecular processes. Interestingly, perfect adaptation can only be achieved robustly by a handful of mechanisms, and while eukaryotic chemotactic networks appear to rely on one of these-the incoherent feed-forward loop, bacterial chemotaxis depends on another-the negative feedback loop. In this review, we discuss how this conclusion can be reached even if the details of the molecular networks are incompletely understood. Furthermore, we argue that the use of distinct network architectures is not accidental and may be a consequence of the nature of the signalling inputs and the limitations of the sensory properties of different cell types.


chemotaxis; model; perfect adaptation

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