How do cells compute logarithm?

A fundamental property that sets life apart from non-life is the ability to sense and react to changes in the environment. While we know that each and every cell must somehow process information about the world around it, it is often difficult to understand why a given collection of biological parts is well suited for a particular task. How do bacteria know where to find food? How does a stem cell know whether to become a bone or muscle cell? … Continue reading

Self-repairing symmetry in jellyfish

  Some facts about jellyfish according to National Geographic. Jellyfish are favorite meal of sea turtles. In 1991, moon jellies flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia for a study on weightlessness and development of juvenile jellyfish. Although they have no brain, jellyfish have somehow been smart enough to survive for more than 500 million years. Almost by accident, we began experimenting on the moon jelly Aurelia aurita in the lab.  To our delight, we discovered that jellyfish ephyra, the juvenile jellyfish, displays … Continue reading

Relative perception in the Wnt pathway

Here is an idea we are very ardently pursuing in the lab. In multicellular animals, cells constantly signal with one another to coordinate function.  About twenty or so signaling pathways have been identified so far. Each signaling pathway consists of a network of dozens of interacting proteins. How do these pathways transduce signal from outside into specific responses inside the cells?  How is information propagated?  When we set out to ask these questions, we found that another question had to … Continue reading

Robustness in embryo development

Here is a long-standing fascination in embryology. When we think about how many uncertainties a growing embryo is facing, it is remarkable that embryos do not grow into unrecognizable monsters.  Protein levels are different from cell to cell, environmental parameters fluctuate, genetic variations abound, size and geometry vary.  But development of embryos relies on a large network of biochemical reactions and molecular transport, both of which are sensitive to variation in concentration, temperature, rate constant, geometry, among many other parameters. … Continue reading