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Spatially Distributed Morphogen Production and Morphogen Gradient Formation

Arthur D. Lander Qing Nie Frederic Y. M. Wan

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Partial differential equations and auxiliary conditions governing the activities of the morphogen Dpp in Drosophila wing imaginal discs were formulated and analyzed as Systems B, R, and C in [7][9][10]. All had morphogens produced at the border of anterior and posterior chamber of the wing disc idealized as a point, line, or plane in a one-, two-, or three-dimensional model. In reality, morphogens are synthesized in a narrow region of finite width (possibly of only a few cells) between the two chambers in which diffusion and reversible binding with degradable receptors may also take place. The present investigation revisits the extracellular System R, now allowing for a finite production region of Dpp between the two chambers. It will be shown that this more refined model of the wing disc, designated as System F, leads to some qualitatively different morphogen gradient features. One significant difference between the two models is that System F impose no restriction on the morphogen production rate for the existence of a unique stable steady state concentration of the Dpp-receptor complexes. Analytical and numerical solutions will be obtained for special cases of System F. Some applications of the results for explaining available experimental data (to appear elsewhere) are briefly indicated. It will also be shown how the effects of the distributed source of System F may be aggregated to give an approximating point source model (designated as the aggregated source model or System A for short) that includes System R as a special case. System A will be analyzed in considerable detail in [6], and the limitation of System R as an approximation of System F will also be delineated there.

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