Quantifying the Gurken Morphogen Gradient in Drosophila Oogenesis

Lea A. Goentoro, Gregory T. Reeves, Craig P. Kowal, Luigi Martinelli, Trudi Schüpbach, Stanislav Y. Shvartsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Quantitative information about the distribution of morphogens is crucial for understanding their effects on cell-fate determination, yet it is difficult to obtain through direct measurements. We have developed a parameter estimation approach for quantifying the spatial distribution of Gurken, a TGFα-like EGFR ligand that acts as a morphogen in Drosophila oogenesis. Modeling of Gurken/EGFR system shows that the shape of the Gurken gradient is controlled by a single dimensionless parameter, the Thiele modulus, which reflects the relative importance of ligand diffusion and degradation. By combining the model with genetic alterations of EGFR levels, we have estimated the value of the Thiele modulus in the wild-type egg chamber. This provides a direct characterization of the shape of the Gurken gradient and demonstrates how parameter estimation techniques can be used to quantify morphogen gradients in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology




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