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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2011 Dec;21(6):719-25. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2011.07.009. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Pattern formation by receptor tyrosine kinases: analysis of the Gurken gradient in Drosophila oogenesis.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, NJ J08544, USA.


Spatial patterns of cell differentiation in developing tissues can be controlled by receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling gradients, which may form when locally secreted ligands activate uniformly expressed receptors. Graded activation of RTKs can span multiple cell diameters, giving rise to spatiotemporal patterns of signaling through the Extracellular Signal Regulated/Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase (ERK/MAPK), which connects receptor activation to multiple aspects of tissue morphogenesis. This general mechanism has been identified in numerous developmental contexts, from body axis specification in insects to patterning of the mammalian neocortex. We review recent quantitative studies of this mechanism in Drosophila oogenesis, an established genetic model of signaling through the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), a highly conserved RTK.

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