Dynamic positional information: Patterning mechanism versus precision in gradient-driven systems
There is much talk about information in biology. In developmental biology, this takes the form of “positional information,” especially in the context of morphogen-based pattern formation. Unfortunately, the concept of “information” is rarely defined in any precise manner.
Here, we provide two alternative interpretations of “positional information,” and examine the complementary meanings and uses of each concept. Positional information defined as Shannon information helps us understand decoding and error propagation in patterning systems. General relativistic positional information, in contrast, provides a metric to assess the output of pattern-forming mechanisms. Both interpretations provide powerful conceptual tools that do not compete, but are best used in combination to gain a proper mechanistic understanding of robust patterning.
J. Jaeger, B. Verd, Dynamic positional information: Patterning mechanism versus precision in gradient-driven systems, Current Topics in Developmental Biology, Vol 137 (2020) 219–246