ABSTRACT

It is well known that electrical signals are deeply associated with living entities. Much of our understanding of excitable tissues is derived from studies of specialized cells of neurons or myocytes. However, electric potential is present in all cell types and results from the differential partitioning of ions across membranes. This electrical potential correlates with cell behavior and tissue organization. In recent years, there has been exciting, and broadly unexpected, evidence linking the regulation of development to bioelectric signals. However, experimental modulation of electrical potential can have multifaceted and pleiotropic effects, which makes dissecting the role of electrical signals in development difficult. Here, I review evidence that bioelectric cues play defined instructional roles in orchestrating development and regeneration, and further outline key areas in which to refine our understanding of this signaling mechanism.

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