Emergence of dynamic patterns in the form of oscillations and waves on the cortex of single cells is a fascinating and enigmatic phenomenon. Here we outline various theoretical frameworks used to model pattern formation with the goal of reducing complex, heterogeneous patterns into key parameters that are biologically tractable.

We also review progress made in recent years on the quantitative and molecular definitions of these terms, which we believe have begun to transform single-cell dynamic patterns from a purely observational and descriptive subject to more mechanistic studies.

Specifically, we focus on the nature of local excitable and oscillation events, their spatial couplings leading to propagating waves and the role of active membrane.

Instead of arguing for their functional importance, we prefer to consider such patterns as basic properties of dynamic systems.

We discuss how knowledge of these patterns could be used to dissect the structure of cellular organization and how the network-centric view could help define cellular functions as transitions between different dynamical states.

Last, we speculate on how these patterns could encode temporal and spatial information.This article is part of the theme issue 'Self-organization in cell biology'.

Rhythmicity and waves in the cortex of single cells.

Yang Y, Wu M.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2018 May 26;373(1747). pii: 20170116. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0116. Review.

29632268 Free PMC Article