Seeing is believing: the Bicoid protein reveals its path

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2 Citations (SciVal)


In this commentary, I will review the latest findings on the Bicoid (Bcd) morphogen in Drosophila, a paradigm for gradient formation taught to biology students for more than two decades. "Seeing is believing" also summarizes the erroneous steps that were needed to elucidate the mechanisms of gradient formation and the path of movement of Bcd. Initially proclaimed as a dogma in 1988 and later incorporated into the SDD model where the broad diffusion of Bcd throughout the embryo was the predominant step leading to gradient formation, the SDD model was irrefutable for more than two decades until first doubts were raised in 2007 regarding the diffusion properties of Bcd associated with the SDD model. This led to re-thinking of the issue and the definition of a new model, termed the ARTS model which could explain most of the physical constraints that were inherently associated with the SDD model. In the ARTS model, gradient formation is mediated by the mRNA which is redistributed along cortical microtubules to form a mRNA gradient which is translated to form the protein gradient. Contrary to the SDD model, there is no Bcd diffusion from the tip. The ARTS model is also compatible with the observed cortical movement of Bcd. I will critically compare the SDD and the ARTS models as well as other models, analyze the major differences, and highlight the path where Bcd is localized during early nuclear cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cell Biology


  • ARTS
  • Bicoid
  • Gradient
  • mRNA
  • SDD


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