Morphogen profiles allow cells to determine their position within a developing organism, but not all morphogen profiles form by the same mechanism. Here we derive fundamental limits to the precision of morphogen concentration sensing for two canonical mechanisms: the diffusion of morphogen through extracellular space and the direct transport of morphogen from source cell to target cell, e.g., via cytonemes. We find that direct transport establishes a morphogen profile without adding noise in the process. Despite this advantage, we find that for sufficiently large values of profile length, the diffusion mechanism is many times more precise due to a higher refresh rate of morphogen molecules. We predict a profile lengthscale below which direct transport is more precise, and above which diffusion is more precise. This prediction is supported by data from a wide variety of morphogens in developing Drosophila and zebrafish.
- Sean Fancher
- Andrew Mugler
- Sean Fancher
- Andrew Mugler
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Raymond E Goldstein, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
- Received: May 15, 2020
- Accepted: October 13, 2020
- Accepted Manuscript published: October 14, 2020 (version 1)
© 2020, Fancher & Mugler
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.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Advances in DNA sequencing have revolutionized our ability to read genomes. However, even in the most well-studied of organisms, the bacterium Escherichia coli, for ≈65% of promoters we remain ignorant of their regulation. Until we crack this regulatory Rosetta Stone, efforts to read and write genomes will remain haphazard. We introduce a new method, Reg-Seq, that links massively parallel reporter assays with mass spectrometry to produce a base pair resolution dissection of more than a E. coli promoters in 12 growth conditions. We demonstrate that the method recapitulates known regulatory information. Then, we examine regulatory architectures for more than 80 promoters which previously had no known regulatory information. In many cases, we also identify which transcription factors mediate their regulation. This method clears a path for highly multiplexed investigations of the regulatory genome of model organisms, with the potential of moving to an array of microbes of ecological and medical relevance.
Our recent work characterized the movement of single blood cells within the retinal vasculature (Joseph et al. 2019) using adaptive optics ophthalmoscopy. Here, we apply this technique to the context of acute inflammation and discover both infiltrating and tissue-resident immune cells to be visible without any labeling in the living mouse retina using near-infrared light alone. Intravital imaging of immune cells can be negatively impacted by surgical manipulation, exogenous dyes, transgenic manipulation and phototoxicity. These confounds are now overcome, using phase contrast and time-lapse videography to reveal the dynamic behavior of myeloid cells as they interact, extravasate and survey the mouse retina. Cellular motility and differential vascular responses were measured noninvasively and in vivo across hours to months at the same retinal location, from initiation to the resolution of inflammation. As comparable systems are already available for clinical research, this approach could be readily translated to human application.