CB 399 Morphogen Gradients Spring 2010

Intellectual Unit: Cell Fate Decisions

Morphogen Gradients

Course Lecturers: Andy McMahon and Alexander Schier

Curriculum Fellow: Latishya Steele, Latishya_Steele@hms.harvard.edu

How do the thousands of different cell types in an animal arise time and again at specific locations during embryonic development? The answer lies partly in the distribution of signalling molecules called morphogens, which are released from local sources and form concentration gradients in target tissues. Cells that are close to the source of the morphogen are exposed to high signal concentrations and activate developmental programs that differ from those in cells that are farther away and exposed to lower levels of morphogen. We will explore how molecules move through developing tissues to form gradients and how cells interpret different morphogen levels to make cell fate decisions.

First Meeting: Friday, March 5, 2-5:30 pm

Location: Sherman Fairchild Lecture Hall, 7 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Room 102)

Second Meeting: Thursday, March 11, 1:30-4 pm

Location: Biological Laboratories (BioLabs), 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Room 2062)

Assignment for the second session:

In our session on Thursday we will discuss how (1) the modulation of morphogen signaling can generate diverse structures and (2) how target cells can change their response to morphogens over time. As preparation for these discussions, carefully read the following papers so that you will be able to explain the background, experiments, conclusions and impact of these studies (click on titles below to access .pdf files of the papers).

Hox control of organ size by regulation of morphogen production and mobility.
Crickmore MA, Mann RS.
Science. 2006 Jul 7;313(5783):63-8. Epub 2006 Jun 1.

Interpretation of the sonic hedgehog morphogen gradient by a temporal adaptation mechanism.
Dessaud E, Yang LL, Hill K, Cox B, Ulloa F, Ribeiro A, Mynett A, Novitch BG, Briscoe J.
Nature. 2007 Nov 29;450(7170):717-20.