Int. J. Dev. Biol. 59: 257 - 260 (2015)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.150215mm
© UPV/EHU Press

Ionic messengers in development and cancer

Marc Moreau and Catherine Leclerc

Centre de Biologie du Développement, UMR 5547, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

ABSTRACT The idea that electrical fields can influence the development of an organism is not new. Electrical fields in cells are mainly due to the presence of channels which are permeable and selective for different ions and transporters. Modulation of their activities can affect cell cycle properties, proliferation and differentiation.Electrical fields are important for embryonic patterning, regeneration and tumour development. Membrane potential is a permanent signal which allows communication between cells, tissues and organs and has to be considered to have the same importance as biochemical signals. The activity of ion channels and pumps which maintain the electrical fields can now be dissected and visualized with new tools involving fluorescent reporters.Despite the fact that our understanding, at the molecular level, of the role of bioelectric signaling pathways, ion currents, voltage and pH gradients in developmental biology and tumor progression is increasing, therapeutic applications of this knowledge still appears to be far away. For the moment, research priorities seem to be on establishing the links between biochemical events, genetic regulation, and network interactions.


Electrical fields, channels, ion currents, fluorescent reporters, bioelectric signaling