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50 years ago, Lewis Wolpert introduced the concept of 'positional information' to explain how patterns form in a multicellular embryonic field. Using morphogen gradients, whose continuous distributions of positional values are discretized via thresholds into distinct cellular states, he provided, at the theoretical level, an elegant solution to the 'French Flag problem'. In the intervening years, many experimental studies have lent support to Wolpert's ideas. However, the embryonic patterning of highly repetitive morphological structures, as often occurring in nature, can reveal limitations in the strict implementation of his initial theory, given the number of distinct threshold values that would have to be specified. Here, we review how positional information is complemented to circumvent these inadequacies, to accommodate tissue growth and pattern periodicity. In particular, we focus on functional anatomical assemblies composed of such structures, like the vertebrate spine or tetrapod digits, where the resulting segmented architecture is intrinsically linked to periodic pattern formation and unidirectional growth. These systems integrate positional information and growth with additional patterning cues that, we suggest, increase robustness and evolvability. We discuss different experimental and theoretical models to study such patterning systems, and how the underlying processes are modulated over evolutionary timescales to enable morphological diversification. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists
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The interdisciplinary science that studies evolutionary biology, including the origin and evolution of the major elements required for life, their processing in the interstellar medium and in protostellar systems. This field also includes the study of chemical evolution and the subsequent interactions between evolving biota and planetary evolution as well as the field of biology that deals with the study of extraterrestrial life.
A plasma protein which is the precursor of kallikrein. Plasma that is deficient in prekallikrein has been found to be abnormal in thromboplastin formation, kinin generation, evolution of a permeability globulin, and plasmin formation. The absence of prekallikrein in plasma leads to Fletcher factor deficiency, a congenital disease.
A relational pattern in which a person attempts to derive a sense of purpose through relationships with others.
Evolution at the molecular level of DNA sequences and proteins. (Rieger et al., Glossary of Genetics: Classical and Molecular, 5th ed)
Enumerations of populations usually recording identities of all persons in every place of residence with age or date of birth, sex, occupation, national origin, language, marital status, income, relation to head of household, information on the dwelling place, education, literacy, health-related data (e.g., permanent disability), etc. The census or "numbering of the people" is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Among the Romans, censuses were intimately connected with the enumeration of troops before and after battle and probably a military necessity. (From Last, A Dictionary of Epidemiology, 3d ed; Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine, 4th ed, p66, p119)