Tight spatiotemporal control of cellular behavior and cell fate decisions is paramount to the formation of multicellular organisms during embryonic development. Intercellular communication via signaling pathways mediates this control. Interestingly, these signaling pathways are not static, but dynamic and change in activity over time. Signaling oscillations as a specific type of dynamics are found in various signaling pathways and model systems. Functions of oscillations include the regulation of periodic events or the transmission of information by encoding signals in the dynamic properties of a signaling pathway. For instance, signaling oscillations in neural or pancreatic progenitor cells modulate their proliferation and differentiation. Oscillations between neighboring cells can also be synchronized, leading to the emergence of waves traveling through the tissue. Such population-wide signaling oscillations regulate for example the consecutive segmentation of vertebrate embryos, a process called somitogenesis. Here, we outline our current understanding of signaling oscillations in embryonic development, how signaling oscillations are generated, how they are studied and how they contribute to the regulation of embryonic development.
- Cell Communication
- Embryonic Development/physiology
- Receptors, Notch/metabolism
- Signal Transduction/physiology