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BIO310: Developmental Biology

Unit 2: Genes and Development   Before you continue to follow the process of development in a newly fertilized egg, it is important to learn about another fundamental aspect of development: the role that genes play in determining cells’ behaviors and fates.  After all, every cell has the same genes as any other cell; how, then, do these cells differentiate and lead to the development of entirely different, complex structures? The answer is: through differential gene expression.  The expression and transmission of genes has been a part of developmental biology from the start.  This unit will describe the first discoveries of genetic expression and transmission in embryos, the molecular basis for this regulation of expression, and the current molecular techniques used by developmental biologists to determine what genes are expressed and where.

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Answer basic questions about the regulation of gene expression (pre-transcription through post-translation).
  • Demonstrate their understanding of the molecular techniques used in developmental biology by identifying the most appropriate technique to use to answer a given question.

2.1 Early Evidence for Genes   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “The Embryological Origins of the Gene Theory” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “The Embryological Origins of the Gene Theory” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety.
 
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2.2 Differential Gene Expression   2.2.1 Transcription   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Differential Gene Transcription” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Differential Gene Transcription” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read all parts of this section except for the subsection on “Locus Control Regions.” You are not responsible for memorizing the extensive examples given in this section (except for the examples of Pax6 and MITF); just understand the basic mechanisms through which transcription is regulated.
 
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2.2.2 RNA Processing   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Differential RNA Processing” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Differential RNA Processing” ” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety, along with all associated figures (Figs. 5.26-5.29).
 
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2.2.3 Translation   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Control of Gene Expression at the Level of Translation” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Control of Gene Expression at the Level of Translation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety, along with all associated figures (Figs. 5.31-5.34).
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.2.4 Post-translational Modifications   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Posttranslational Gene Regulation” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Posttranslational Gene Regulation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this one-paragraph section.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.3 Molecular Techniques   2.3.1 RNA Localization   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “RNA Localization Techniques” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “RNA Localization Techniques” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety, along with all associated figures (Figs. 4.14-4.17).
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.3.2 Chimeras   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Determining the Function of Genes during Development” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Determining the Function of Genes during Development” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety, along with all associated figures (Figs. 4.18-4.23).  This reading will cover subunits 2.3.2-2.3.4.
 
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  • Web Media: The Society for Developmental Biology’s Developmental Biology Cinema: Nicole Le Douarin's “Quail-Chick Chimeras” Link: The Society for Developmental Biology’s Developmental Biology Cinema: Nicole Le Douarin's “Quail-Chick Chimeras” (HTML, Quicktime)
     
    Instructions: Watch at least one of these brief videos showing quail-chick chimeras and the processes involved in making them.
     
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2.3.3 Genetic Knockouts   2.3.4 Antisense RNA   Note: As you learn about the genes involved in development, remember that many genes are named for the traits of individuals with their mutations; “wingless,” for example, is not a gene for winglessness, but organisms with defective copies of this gene will have no wings or defective wings.  Genes are not named this way in order to confuse students, although it may sometimes seem like it; rather, they are given these names because often the only or best way to determine which genes are necessary for specific aspects of development is to inactivate them and see how the embryo develops in their absence.