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

ntal time.

Using the powerful Drosophila (fruit fly) genetic system, which includes diverse species with fully sequenced genomes, the Erives Lab identified a case of spatial and temporal conflict in the regulation of the ventral neurons defective (vnd) gene, which must be precisely regulated in order for the fly's nervous system to be properly specified. The vnd gene is induced by a concentration gradient of a key embryonic factor (dorsal/NFkB) that patterns the dorsal/ventral (D/V) axis of the embryo. In particular, the vnd gene plays a critical role in specifying distinct D/V neural columnar fates of the ectodermal compartments by encoding a repressor of additional regulators.

The role of vnd in this regulatory hierarchy requires early temporal expression, which is characteristic of low-threshold responses, but its specification of ventral neurogenic ectoderm demands a relatively high-threshold response to the morphogen.

The study shows that the vnd gene's Neurogenic Ectoderm Enhancer (NEE) takes additional input from a complementary gradient of the Dpp morphogen via a highly-conserved Schnurri/Mad/Medea silencer element (SSE), which is integral to its NEE module. In this regard, the NEE at vnd is unlike NEEs at other genetic loci, which are not involved in the neural specification circuit and have no resident SSE. They also show that an SSE could be added to a single-input NEE and cause spatial restriction of its activity. These results show how requirements for conflicting temporal and spatial responses to one morphogen gradient can be solved by additional inputs from complementary morphogen gradients.

The Erives Lab at the UI's Department of Biology studies the structure, function, and evolution of enhancers within the context of gene regulatory circuits underlying the evolution and development of animals by using molecular, genetic, and evolutionary genomic approaches. Within these areas, the Erives Lab has published
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Contact: Gary Galluzzo
gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu
319-384-0009
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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