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Guiding self-organized pattern formation in cell polarity establishment

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Gross,  Peter
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Kumar,  K. Vijay
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Jülicher,  Frank
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Grill,  Stephan W.
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Gross, P., Kumar, K. V., Goehring, N. W., Bois, J. S., Hoege, C., Jülicher, F., et al. (2019). Guiding self-organized pattern formation in cell polarity establishment. Nature Physics, 15(3), 293-300. doi:10.1038/s41567-018-0358-7.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-C6E9-7
Abstract
Spontaneous pattern formation in Turing systems relies on feedback. But patterns in cells and tissues seldom form spontaneously-instead they are controlled by regulatory biochemical interactions that provide molecular guiding cues. The relationship between these guiding cues and feedback in controlled biological pattern formation remains unclear. Here, we explore this relationship during cell-polarity establishment in the one-cell-stage Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. We quantify the strength of two feedback systems that operate during polarity establishment: feedback between polarity proteins and the actomyosin cortex, and mutual antagonism among polarity proteins. We characterize how these feedback systems are modulated by guiding cues from the centrosome, an organelle regulating cell cycle progression. By coupling a mass-conserved Turing-like reaction-diffusion system for polarity proteins to an active-gel description of the actomyosin cortex, we reveal a transition point beyond which feedback ensures self-organized polarization, even when cues are removed. Notably, the system switches from a guide-dominated to a feedback-dominated regime well beyond this transition point, which ensures robustness. Together, these results reveal a general criterion for controlling biological pattern-forming systems: feedback remains subcritical to avoid unstable behaviour, and molecular guiding cues drive the system beyond a transition point for pattern formation.