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PLoS Comput Biol. 2011 Jul;7(7):e1002109. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002109. Epub 2011 Jul 14.

Does the potential for chaos constrain the embryonic cell-cycle oscillator?

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1
Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.

Abstract

Although many of the core components of the embryonic cell-cycle network have been elucidated, the question of how embryos achieve robust, synchronous cellular divisions post-fertilization remains unexplored. What are the different schemes that could be implemented by the embryo to achieve synchronization? By extending a cell-cycle model previously developed for embryos of the frog Xenopus laevis to include the spatial dimensions of the embryo, we establish a novel role for the rapid, fertilization-initiated calcium wave that triggers cell-cycle oscillations. Specifically, in our simulations a fast calcium wave results in synchronized cell cycles, while a slow wave results in full-blown spatio-temporal chaos. We show that such chaos would ultimately lead to an unpredictable patchwork of cell divisions across the embryo. Given this potential for chaos, our results indicate a novel design principle whereby the fast calcium-wave trigger following embryo fertilization synchronizes cell divisions.

PMID:
21779158
PMCID:
PMC3136431
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002109
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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