Experimentally Based Sea Urchin Gene Regulatory Network and the Causal Explanation of Developmental Phenomenology

Smadar Ben-Tabou De-Leon, Eric H. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Gene regulatory networks for development underlie cell fate specification and differentiation. Network topology, logic and dynamics can be obtained by thorough experimental analysis. Our understanding of the gene regulatory network controlling endomesoderm specification in the sea urchin embryo has attained an advanced level such that it explains developmental phenomenology. Here we review how the network explains the mechanisms utilized in development to control the formation of dynamic expression patterns of transcription factors and signaling molecules. The network represents the genomic program controlling timely activation of specification and differentiation genes in the correct embryonic lineages. It can also be used to study evolution of body plans. We demonstrate how comparing the sea urchin gene regulatory network to that of the sea star and to that of later developmental stages in the sea urchin, reveals mechanisms underlying the origin of evolutionary novelty. The experimentally based gene regulatory network for endomesoderm specification in the sea urchin embryo provides unique insights into the system level properties of cell fate specification and its evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Systems Biology and Medicine
Volume1
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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