The evolution of cellular individuality

3 April 2015

Eric Deeds
Department of Molecular Biosciences
University of Kansas


Signaling networks in metazoan cells are notoriously complex, which often makes it difficult to reason about their function at a systems level. One major contributor to this complexity is crosstalk: the global topology of these networks is generally not organized as a discrete set of pathways, but rather as a highly interconnected web in which each individual input signal is connected to a large number of downstream outputs. Another confounding feature of these signaling networks is their variability: individual cells within an isogenic population of cells can often respond quite differently to the same set of input signals. I will discuss some of our recent work that suggests both of these phenomena (variability and crosstalk) have evolved to satisfy some of the constraints that multicellularity places on intracellular communication.

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