Cellular identity as defined through morphology and function emerges from intracellular signaling networks that communicate between cells. Based on recursive interactions within and among these intracellular networks, dynamical solutions in terms of biochemical behavior are generated that can differ from those in isolated cells. In this way, cellular heterogeneity in tissues can be established, implying that cell identity is not intrinsically predetermined by the genetic code but is rather dynamically maintained in a cognitive manner. We address how to experimentally measure the flow of information in intracellular biochemical networks and demonstrate that even simple causality motifs can give rise to rich, context‐dependent dynamic behavior. The concept how intercellular communication can result in novel dynamical solutions is applied to provide a contextual perspective on cell differentiation and tumorigenesis.
- Received August 1, 2016.
- Revision received October 13, 2016.
- Accepted December 20, 2016.
- © 2017 The Authors
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