Dynamic Maternal Gradients Control Timing and Shift-Rates for Gap Gene Expression

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Berta VerdJohannes Jaeger

Abstract

Pattern formation during development is a highly dynamic process. In spite of this, few experimental and modelling approaches take into account the explicit time-dependence of the rules governing regulatory systems. We address this problem by studying dynamic morphogen interpretation by the gap gene network in Drosophila melanogaster. Gap genes are involved in segment determination during early embryogenesis. They are activated by maternal morphogen gradients encoded by bicoid (bcd) and caudal (cad). These gradients decay at the same time-scale as the establishment of the antero-posterior gap gene pattern. We use a reverse-engineering approach, based on data-driven regulatory models called gene circuits, to isolate and characterise the explicitly time-dependent effects of changing morphogen concentrations on gap gene regulation. To achieve this, we simulate the system in the presence and absence of dynamic gradient decay. Comparison between these simulations reveals that maternal morphogen decay controls the timing and limits the rate of gap gene expression. In the anterior of the embyro, it affects peak expression and leads to the establishment of smooth spatial boundaries between gap domains. In the posterior of the embryo, i...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Drosophila melanogaster
Embryo
Embryonic Development
Gene Expression
Genetic Engineering
Bicoid protein, Drosophila
Dorsal
Caudal
Patterns
Simulation

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