The Mesendoderm Gene Network

The characteristics of a particular cell, be it in the developing embryo or the adult, are dictated by the expression of a set of genes specific for that cell. In the developing C. elegans embryo, a cascade of transcription factors operates in the development of the mesoderm (MS) and endoderm (E) lineages. The regulatory hierarchy begins with a maternally supplied gene product, SKN-1, which then activates the med-1,2 genes in the EMS cell. At the next cell generation, MED-1,2 activate end-1,3 in the E cell, and tbx-35 in the MS cell. Additional inputs into end-1,3 activation are also known.

The C. elegans mesendoderm (or endomesoderm) Gene Regulatory Network shares many properties with other such networks, such as the prevalence of certain types of gene interactions (e.g. the 'regulatory chain' or 'feed-forward' motifs). Hence, this network is a model for gene networks in general.

We are currently evaluating the role of other early C. elegans embryonic genes, with the goal of constructing a comprehensive early embryo network. We are also examining the evolution of this network in species that are related to C. elegans.

Papers on the C. elegans Endomesoderm Network:
(Maduro, 2006)
arrow(Maduro, 2009)