How do our organs know when to stop growing?

Frank Jülicher’s group publishes a collaborative study on the role of morphogen gradients in determining organ size

Scheme of the four modules of Dpp transport defined by the terms in the λ2 equation. ©

The smallest fish in the world, the Paedocypris, measures only 7 millimeters. This is nothing compared to the 9 meters of the whale shark. The small fish shares many of the same genes and the same anatomy with the shark, but the dorsal and caudal fins, gills, stomach and heart, are thousands of times smaller! How do organs and tissues of this miniature fish stop growing very quickly, unlike those of their giant cousin? A multidisciplinary team led by the Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, and Frank Jülicher from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS) and the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD) was able to answer this fundamental question by studying its physics and using mathematical equations, as revealed by their work published in the journal Nature.


Original Publication
Michailidi, M.R., Hadjivasiliou, Z., Aguilar-Hidalgo, D. et al. Morphogen gradient scaling by recycling of intracellular Dpp. Nature (2021).