The many bits of positional information.

TitleThe many bits of positional information.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsTkačik, G, Gregor, T
JournalDevelopment
Volume148
Issue2
Date Published2021 02 01
ISSN1477-9129
KeywordsAnimals, Biological Evolution, Body Patterning, Humans, Information Theory, Models, Biological
Abstract

Half a century after Lewis Wolpert's seminal conceptual advance on how cellular fates distribute in space, we provide a brief historical perspective on how the concept of positional information emerged and influenced the field of developmental biology and beyond. We focus on a modern interpretation of this concept in terms of information theory, largely centered on its application to cell specification in the early embryo. We argue that a true physical variable (position) is encoded in local concentrations of patterning molecules, that this mapping is stochastic, and that the processes by which positions and corresponding cell fates are determined based on these concentrations need to take such stochasticity into account. With this approach, we shift the focus from biological mechanisms, molecules, genes and pathways to quantitative systems-level questions: where does positional information reside, how it is transformed and accessed during development, and what fundamental limits it is subject to?

DOI10.1242/dev.176065
Alternate JournalDevelopment
PubMed ID33526425
PubMed Central IDPMC7875500
Grant ListR01 GM097275 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States