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A Gene Regulatory Network Subcircuit Drives a Dynamic Pattern of Gene Expression

Science  02 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5851, pp. 794-797
DOI: 10.1126/science.1146524

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Abstract

Early specification of endomesodermal territories in the sea urchin embryo depends on a moving torus of regulatory gene expression. We show how this dynamic patterning function is encoded in a gene regulatory network (GRN) subcircuit that includes the otx, wnt8, and blimp1 genes, the cis-regulatory control systems of which have all been experimentally defined. A cis-regulatory reconstruction experiment revealed that blimp1 autorepression accounts for progressive extinction of expression in the center of the torus, whereas its outward expansion follows reception of the Wnt8 ligand by adjacent cells. GRN circuitry thus controls not only static spatial assignment in development but also dynamic regulatory patterning.

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