Information Theory as an Experimental Tool for Integrating Disparate Biophysical Signaling Modules

Patrick McMillen, Sara I. Walker, Michael Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is a growing appreciation in the fields of cell biology and developmental biology that cells collectively process information in time and space. While many powerful molecular tools exist to observe biophysical dynamics, biologists must find ways to quantitatively understand these phenomena at the systems level. Here, we present a guide for the application of well-established information theory metrics to biological datasets and explain these metrics using examples from cell, developmental and regenerative biology. We introduce a novel computational tool named after its intended purpose, calcium imaging, (CAIM) for simple, rigorous application of these metrics to time series datasets. Finally, we use CAIM to study calcium and cytoskeletal actin information flow patterns between Xenopus laevis embryonic animal cap stem cells. The tools that we present here should enable biologists to apply information theory to develop a systems-level understanding of information processing across a diverse array of experimental systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9580
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • calcium
  • cell biology
  • embryogenesis
  • information theory
  • morphogenesis
  • regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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