Research Article

Regulatory Blueprint for a Chordate Embryo

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Science  26 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5777, pp. 1183-1187
DOI: 10.1126/science.1123404

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Abstract

Ciona is an emerging model system for elucidating gene networks in development. Comprehensive in situ hybridization assays have identified 76 regulatory genes with localized expression patterns in the early embryo, at the time when naïve blastomeres are determined to follow specific cell fates. Systematic gene disruption assays provided more than 3000 combinations of gene expression profiles in mutant backgrounds. Deduced gene circuit diagrams describing the formation of larval tissues were computationally visualized. These diagrams constitute a blueprint for the Ciona embryo and provide a foundation for understanding the evolutionary origins of the chordate body plan.

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