Breaking symmetry in populations of uniform cells, to induce adoption of an alternative cell fate, is an essential developmental mechanism. Similarly, domain and boundary establishment are crucial steps to forming organs during development. Notch signaling is a pathway ideally suited to mediating precise patterning cues, as both receptors and ligands are membrane-bound and can thus act as a precise switch to toggle cell fates on or off. Fine-tuning of signaling by positive or negative feedback mechanisms dictate whether signaling results in lateral induction or lateral inhibition, respectively, allowing Notch to either induce entire regions of cell specification, or dictate binary fate choices. Furthermore, pathway activity is modulated by Fringe modification of receptors or ligands, co-expression of receptors with ligands, mode of ligand presentation, and cell surface area in contact. In this review, we describe how Notch signaling is fine-tuned to mediate lateral induction or lateral inhibition cues, and discuss examples from C.elegans, D. melanogaster and M. musculus. Identifying the cellular machinery dictating the choice between lateral induction and lateral inhibition highlights the versatility of the Notch signaling pathway in development.
Sjöqvist, M., & Andersson, E. R. (2019, March 1). Do as I say, Not(ch) as I do: Lateral control of cell fate. Developmental Biology. Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.09.032