1. Developmental Biology
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Geometric models for robust encoding of dynamical information into embryonic patterns

  1. Laurent Jutras-Dubé
  2. Ezzat El-Sherif  Is a corresponding author
  3. Paul François  Is a corresponding author
  1. McGill University, Canada
  2. Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e55778 doi: 10.7554/eLife.55778


During development, cells gradually assume specialized fates via changes of transcriptional dynamics, sometimes even within the same developmental stage. For anterior-posterior (AP) patterning in metazoans, it has been suggested that the gradual transition from a dynamic genetic regime to a static one is encoded by different transcriptional modules. In that case, the static regime has an essential role in pattern formation in addition to its maintenance function. In this work, we introduce a geometric approach to study such transition. We exhibit two types of genetic regime transitions, respectively arising through local or global bifurcations. We find that the global bifurcation type is more generic, more robust, and better preserves dynamical information. This could parsimoniously explain common features of metazoan segmentation, such as changes of periods leading to waves of gene expressions, 'speed/frequency-gradient' dynamics, and changes of wave patterns. Geometric approaches appear as possible alternatives to gene regulatory networks to understand development.

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Author details

  1. Laurent Jutras-Dubé

    Physics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-4323-2840
  2. Ezzat El-Sherif

    Department of Biology, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1738-8139
  3. Paul François

    Physics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2223-839X


Simons Foundation (MMLS)

  • Laurent Jutras-Dubé
  • Paul François

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (CREATE in Complex Dynamics)

  • Laurent Jutras-Dubé

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (EL 870/2-1)

  • Ezzat El-Sherif

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Sandeep Krishna, National Centre for Biological Sciences­‐Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India

Publication history

  1. Received: February 5, 2020
  2. Accepted: August 7, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 10, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 3, 2020 (version 2)


© 2020, Jutras-Dubé et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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