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Unexpected role of noise in spine formation
Date:9/29/2011

The development of periodic structures in embryos giving rise to the formation of, e.g., spine segments, is controlled not by genes but by simple physical and chemical phenomena. Researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the University Pierre et Marie Curie have proposed a straightforward theoretical model to describe the process, and studied how the segmentation is affected by internal, thermodynamic noise of the system. The results turned out to be counterintuitive.

In an early stage of embryogenesis in vertebrates, periodic segments called somites are formed in their dorsal mesoderm. With time, they transform into, i.a., vertebrae, spine elements. A Polish-French team from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS) in Warsaw and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) in Paris has presented a straightforward theoretical model describing the formation of similar patterns. An analysis of the model properties has revealed that the formation of such patterns is surprisingly affected by the internal noise that is present in any physical system.

"We are convinced that the laws of physics and chemistry can explain biological phenomena and the evolution of living organisms", says Dr Bogdan Nowakowski from IPC PAS. "That's why we attempted to model theoretically one of the elements of vertebrate embryogenesis: the formation of periodic structures in somitogenesis. We did it by considering the minimal scheme of chemical reactions involving only a few components".

The chemistry of far-from-equilibrium phenomena knows spectacular Belousov-Zhabotinsky oscillating reactions (you can watch them in many movies on Youtube). The reactions occur in aqueous solutions of appropriate reagents with various concentrations. If addition of a component re
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Contact: Dr. Bogdan Nowakowski
bnowakowski@ichf.edu.pl
48-223-433-191
Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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