Irreversible gene repression model for control of development

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Science  14 Jul 1978:
Vol. 201, Issue 4351, pp. 120-130
DOI: 10.1126/science.351805


As the pluripotent cells of early embryos differentiate, each progressively loses the potency to develop into several phenotypes. Ultimately, each cell becomes irreversibly restricted to the expression of a single phenotype. Although in many instances details regarding those restriction events are well known, there is little information concerning the nature of the gene transcription changes involved. A model that accounts for the diminution of developmental potential as resulting from progressive, irreversible repression of previously active genes is presented. A scheme of progressive gene repression, rather than selective gene activation, is most consistent with observations from experimental embryology as well as from more recent biochemical experimentation.