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The developmental genetics of space and time
Date:5/15/2013

Albert Erives, associate professor in the University of Iowa Department of Biology, and his graduate student, Justin Crocker, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Janelia Farm Research Campus, have conducted a study that reveals important and useful insights into how and why developmental genes often take inputs from two independent "morphogen concentration gradients."

The study appears in the Genomes & Developmental Control section of the online June 1 issue of the journal Developmental Biology. The complete paper can be found at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012160613001310.

Understanding the concept of morphogen gradientsthe mechanism by which a signal from one part of a developing embryo can influence the location and other variables of surrounding cellsis important to developmental biology, gene regulation, evolution, and human health.

Morphogen gradients subdivide a field of cells into territories characterized by distinct cell fate potentials and allow cells to "know" their position within a developing embryonic tissue and to differentiate appropriately. In order to function, such systems require a genetic mechanism to encode a spectrum of responses at different target genes.

This genetic mechanism takes the form of transcriptional enhancers, which are DNA sequences that display a cryptic code of transcription factor (TF) binding sites. During development and/or environmental perturbation, these enhancers serve as assembly scaffolds for TF protein complexes that orchestrate differential gene expression.

However, enhancers targeted by morphogen signaling may drive temporally inappropriate expression because morphogen gradients also provide temporal cues. That is, the morphogenic gradient builds up and decays over a specific window of developme
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Contact: Gary Galluzzo
gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu
319-384-0009
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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