Deciphering the mechanism that determines organ size and shape

A study by IRB Barcelona's Development and Growth Control Laboratory, headed by ICREA researcher Marco Milán, reveals how Dpp and Wg morphogens regulate organ proportions and patterning of the fly wing through independent ...

Growing embryonic tissues on a chip

It's no surprise that using human embryos for biological and medical research comes with many ethical concerns. Correct though it is to proceed with caution in these matters, the fact is that much science would benefit from ...

Drosophilia brings to light the role of morphogens in limb growth

Researchers working in the Development and Growth Control Lab at IRB Barcelona reveal that the Dpp gene (BMP in humans) plays a double role in the structural organisation and growth of the wings of the fruit fly Drosophila ...

Nanobodies from camels enable the study of organ growth

Researchers at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have developed a new technique using nanobodies. Employing the so-called "Morphotrap", the distribution of the morphogen Dpp, which plays an important role in wing ...

Cells move as concentration shifts

What do wound healing, cancer metastasis, and bacteria colonies have in common? They all involve the collective displacement of biological cells. New research sheds some new light on the physical mechanisms provoking the ...

Alan Turing's 1950s tiger stripe theory proved

Researchers from King's College London have provided the first experimental evidence confirming a great British mathematician's theory of how biological patterns such as tiger stripes or leopard spots are formed.

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Morphogen

A morphogen is a substance governing the pattern of tissue development, and the positions of the various specialized cell types within a tissue. It spreads from a localized source and forms a concentration gradient across a developing tissue[citation needed].

In developmental biology a morphogen is rigorously used to mean a signaling molecule that acts directly on cells (not through serial induction) to produce specific cellular responses dependent on morphogen concentration[citation needed].

Well-known morphogens include: Decapentaplegic / Transforming growth factor beta, Hedgehog / Sonic Hedgehog, Wingless / Wnt, Epidermal growth factor, Fibroblast growth factor, and Retinoic acid[citation needed].

Morphogens are defined conceptually, not chemically[citation needed], so simple compounds such as retinoic acid (the active metabolite of retinol or vitamin A) may also act as morphogens[citation needed].

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