Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biologists describe key mechanism in early embryo development

21.10.2011
New York University and University of Iowa biologists have identified a key mechanism controlling early embryonic development that is critical in determining how structures such as appendages—arms and legs in humans—grow in the right place and at the right time.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS Genetics, John Manak, an assistant professor of biology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Chris Rushlow, a professor in NYU's Department of Biology, write that much research has focused on the spatial regulatory networks that control early developmental processes. However, they note, less attention has been paid to how such networks can be precisely coordinated over time.

Rushlow and Manak find that a protein called Zelda is responsible for turning on groups of genes essential to development in an exquisitely coordinated fashion.

"Zelda does more than initiate gene networks—it orchestrates their activities so that the embryo undergoes developmental processes in a robust manner at the proper time and in the correct order," says Rushlow, part of NYU's Center for Developmental Genetics.

"Our results demonstrate the significance of a timing mechanism in coordinating regulatory gene networks during early development, and bring a new perspective to classical concepts of how spatial regulation can be achieved," says Manak, who is also assistant professor of pediatrics in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and researcher in the UI Roy J. Carver Center for Genomics.

The researchers note that their findings break new ground.

"We discovered a key transcriptional regulator, Zelda, which is the long-sought-after factor that activates the early zygotic genome," says Rushlow.

"Initially, the embryo relies on maternally deposited gene products to begin developing, and the transition to dependence on its own zygotic genome is called the maternal-to-zygotic transition," she adds. "Two hallmark events that occur during this transition are zygotic gene transcription and maternal RNA degradation, and interestingly, Zelda appears to be involved in both processes."

The research showed that when Zelda was absent, activation of genes was delayed, thus interfering with the proper order of gene interactions and ultimately disrupting gene expression patterns, the researchers noted, adding that the consequence to the embryo of altered expression patterns is a drastic change in the body plan such that many tissues and organs are not formed properly, if at all.

The researchers used Drosophila, or fruit flies, to investigate these regulatory networks. The fruit fly has the advantage of being a tractable genetic model system with a rapid developmental time, and many of the genetic processes identified in flies are conserved in humans. Additionally, pioneering fly research has led to many of the key discoveries of the molecular mechanisms underlying developmental processes in complex animals.

The study brought together Rushlow, who discovered Zelda and is an expert in genetic regulatory networks in development, and Manak, a genomics expert whose laboratory focuses on how a genome is constructed and coordinately functions.

"I had always wanted to work with Chris, and this was a wonderful opportunity for us to combine our complementary areas of expertise in a truly synergistic fashion," says Manak.

"Our collaboration is a marvelous example of how a problem can be viewed from two different perspectives, a systems view of early gene networks and an individualistic view of single genes and single embryos, and result in novel and significant discoveries," says Rushlow.

The project's author researchers were: Stephen Butcher of the UI Departments of Pediatrics and Biology; and Chung-yi Nien, Hsiao-lan Liang, Yujia Sun, Shengbo Fu, Tenzin Gocha, and Nikolai Kirov, all of the Center for Developmental Genetics, part of NYU's Department of Biology.

The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

James Devitt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht X-ray experiments reveal two different types of water
27.06.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>