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Development. 2013 Dec;140(24):4830-43. doi: 10.1242/dev.100511.

Mechanisms of scaling in pattern formation.

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Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


Many organisms and their constituent tissues and organs vary substantially in size but differ little in morphology; they appear to be scaled versions of a common template or pattern. Such scaling involves adjusting the intrinsic scale of spatial patterns of gene expression that are set up during development to the size of the system. Identifying the mechanisms that regulate scaling of patterns at the tissue, organ and organism level during development is a longstanding challenge in biology, but recent molecular-level data and mathematical modeling have shed light on scaling mechanisms in several systems, including Drosophila and Xenopus. Here, we investigate the underlying principles needed for understanding the mechanisms that can produce scale invariance in spatial pattern formation and discuss examples of systems that scale during development.


Bone morphogenetic proteins; Mathematical modeling; Morphogen; Pattern formation; Scale invariance; Turing

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