A computational view of sea urchin development

FredD [creativecommons license] via Wikimedia Commons

As an embryo develops into an adult, each cell follows a genetic ‘script’ comprising an intricate network of interactions between regulatory genes. Extensive research has been done to identify these genes and their interactions in order to build a more detailed understanding of how development progresses. Sea urchin embryos are favored models for such research, owing to their manageable size and their transparency, which enables direct visualization of developmental stages. Biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena) have focused their research on characterizing the gene interactions that occur during the first 30 hours of development of the endomesoderm in the sea urchin. They have identified ~50 regulatory genes in this network. Now, for the first time, they have built a computational model of this network, creating a powerful tool for exploring gene regulatory networks (GRNs) in a novel manner.

Lab Anim. (NY) 41, 272 (2012).
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