Morphogenetic gradients

Morphogenetic gradients and modeling of early development

collaboration A. Prochiantz

In pluricellular organisms, metazoans and metaphytes, positional information is instrumental to all developmental processes. In the nervous system, positional information is responsible for the formation of borders in the developing neuroepithelium and is used for axonal guidance and synapse formation.

We are interested here in the main mechanisms by which the position of a cell is defined within an ensemble and how this cell can respond to this information by the expression of a developmental program. This question of morphogenetic fields and gradients has been explored by many theoreticians and experimentalists and the model that we propose present similarities with many anterior ones, in particular those developed by Turing.

We recently proposed a model of morphogenetic gradient during early development, based on the propagation of a morphogen, which is a transcription factor. We derived a system of couple degenerated parabolic PDE. We studied how a random perturbation of the gradient can affect the precise location of the boundary between two morphogenetic regions. Modification of the boundary can have dramatic consequences on the position of cortical area and thus on the behavior.


D. Holcman V. Kasatkin A. Prochiantz,, Mathematical analysis of morphogenetic gradients stability J. Theor. Biol 2007.

V. Kasatkin, A. Prochiantz, D. Holcman, Mathematical analysis of morphogenetic gradients stability, Bull Math. Biol 2007. DOI 10.1007/s11538-007-9246-5