Theoretical and experimental approaches to understand morphogen gradients

Marta Ibañes, Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Morphogen gradients, which specify different fates for cells in a direct concentration-dependent manner, are a highly influential framework in which pattern formation processes in developmental biology can be characterized. A common analysis approach is combining experimental and theoretical strategies, thereby fostering relevant data on the dynamics and transduction of gradients. The mechanisms of morphogen transport and conversion from graded information to binary responses are some of the topics on which these combined strategies have shed light. Herein, we review these data, emphasizing, on the one hand, how theoretical approaches have been helpful and, on the other hand, how these have been combined with experimental strategies. In addition, we discuss those cases in which gradient formation and gradient interpretation at the molecular and/or cellular level may influence each other within a mutual feedback loop. To understand this interplay and the features it yields, it becomes essential to take system-level approaches that combine experimental and theoretical strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176
Number of pages1
JournalMolecular Systems Biology
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Gradient
  • Interpretation
  • Modelling
  • Morphogen
  • Transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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