Gene regulation and function in early embryos

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Investigator: Thomas B. Kornberg, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Location(s): United States

Description

Cell cycle progression, cell migrations and gene expression that occur at the wrong time or place, or that are inaccurately regulated, can result in abnormal development and can lead to disease states. There are many systems that can be studied to improve our understanding of the cell cycle, cell movements and gene expression. One that has several unique advantages is the early Drosophila embryo when nuclear cycles produce approximately four thousand nuclei within the first two hours after fertilization. These early cycles offer one of the few tractable systems with both high uniformity and an abbreviated and apparently simplified cell cycle. This proposal describes an investigation of these nuclear divisions; findings that are the basis for the proposed experiments already reveal that our understanding of this early, critical stage of development must change radically. In contrast to the outstanding progress that has been made in deciphering the processes and regulatory networks that govern and enable germ cell maturation and organogenesis, the mechanisms that regulate the earliest stages of embryogenesis have resisted genetic and molecular analysis. Work proposed in this application takes advantage of new observations that open the earliest stages of embryogenesis to genetic and molecular investigations.