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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required: 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.
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