The interpretation of morphogen gradients
Morphogens act as graded positional cues that control cell fate specification in many developing tissues. This concept, in which a signalling gradient regulates differential gene expression in a concentration-dependent manner, provides a basis for understanding many patterning processes. It also raises several mechanistic issues, such as how responding cells perceive and interpret the concentration-dependent information provided by a morphogen to generate precise patterns of gene expression and cell differentiation in developing tissues. Here, we review recent work on the molecular features of morphogen signalling that facilitate the interpretation of graded signals and attempt to identify some emerging common principles.