How Cyanobacteria Count to 10

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Science  30 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5390, pp. 891-892
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5390.891

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Cell-cell communication is crucial for normal development, and diffusible molecules that regulate differentiation have been identified in several eukaryotic organisms. In this issue Yoon and Golden show that a diffusible inhibitory peptide, PatS, controls pattern formation in a prokaryotic organism, the cyanobacterium Anabaena. Their results, discussed in a Perspective by Haselkorn, provide insight into the mechanisms underlying heterocyst pattern formation and may apply to differentiation in more complex organisms.