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The Logic of Receptor-Ligand Interactions in the Notch Signaling Pathway


LeBon, Lauren E. (2014) The Logic of Receptor-Ligand Interactions in the Notch Signaling Pathway. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/83PA-9833.


The Notch signaling pathway enables neighboring cells to coordinate developmental fates in diverse processes such as angiogenesis, neuronal differentiation, and immune system development. Although key components and interactions in the Notch pathway are known, it remains unclear how they work together to determine a cell's signaling state, defined as its quantitative ability to send and receive signals using particular Notch receptors and ligands. Recent work suggests that several aspects of the system can lead to complex signaling behaviors: First, receptors and ligands interact in two distinct ways, inhibiting each other in the same cell (in cis) while productively interacting between cells (in trans) to signal. The ability of a cell to send or receive signals depends strongly on both types of interactions. Second, mammals have multiple types of receptors and ligands, which interact with different strengths, and are frequently co-expressed in natural systems. Third, the three mammalian Fringe proteins can modify receptor-ligand interaction strengths in distinct and ligand-specific ways. Consequently, cells can exhibit non-intuitive signaling states even with relatively few components.

In order to understand what signaling states occur in natural processes, and what types of signaling behaviors they enable, this thesis puts forward a quantitative and predictive model of how the Notch signaling state is determined by the expression levels of receptors, ligands, and Fringe proteins. To specify the parameters of the model, we constructed a set of cell lines that allow control of ligand and Fringe expression level, and readout of the resulting Notch activity. We subjected these cell lines to an assay to quantitatively assess the levels of Notch ligands and receptors on the surface of individual cells. We further analyzed the dependence of these interactions on the level and type of Fringe expression. We developed a mathematical modeling framework that uses these data to predict the signaling states of individual cells from component expression levels. These methods allow us to reconstitute and analyze a diverse set of Notch signaling configurations from the bottom up, and provide a comprehensive view of the signaling repertoire of this major signaling pathway.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Notch signaling, developmental biology, developmental patterning, cell signaling
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Computation and Neural Systems
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Elowitz, Michael B.
Thesis Committee:
  • Hay, Bruce A. (chair)
  • Weinmaster, Geraldine
  • Anderson, David J.
  • Goentoro, Lea A.
  • Elowitz, Michael B.
Defense Date:9 May 2014
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05212014-094412950
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription and supplementary material in Appendix
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8252
Deposited By: Lauren LeBon
Deposited On:22 May 2014 18:42
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:04

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