Evaluating the Drosophila Bicoid morphogen gradient system through dissecting the noise in transcriptional bursts
Morphogen profiles play a vital role in biology by specifying position in embryonic development. However, the factors that influence the shape of a morphogen profile remain poorly understood. Since morphogens should provide precise positional information, one significant factor is the robustness of the profile to noise. We compare three experimentally relevant classes of morphogen profiles (linear, exponential, and algebraic) to see which is most precise when subject to both external embryo-to-embryo fluctuations and internal fluctuations due to intrinsically random processes such as diffusion. We find that both the kinetic parameters and the overall gradient shape (e.g., exponential versus algebraic) can be optimized to generate maximally precise positional information.