Laboratory of embryonic gene expression



Welcome to the Home Page of the Eric Davidson Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.The major focus of research in our laboratory is on gene networks that control development and their evolution. Our areas of research include the transcriptional mechanisms by which specification of embryonic blastomeres occurs early in development; structure/function relationships in developmental cis-regulatory systems; sea urchin genomics; and regulatory evolution in the bilaterians. Most of our work is carried out on sea urchin embryos, which provide key experimental advantages.

Among these are an easy gene transfer technology; virtually unlimited availability of embryonic material, necessary for isolation of rare molecules such as transcription factors; an optically clear, easily manipulated embryo that is remarkably able to withstand micromanipulation; blastomere recombination and disaggregation procedures; a very well understood and relatively simple embryonic process; and in-house egg-to-egg culture of the species we work with, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (in a special culture system we have developed located at Caltech's Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory).At this point there is also an unusually rich collection of arrayed cDNA and genomic libraries for sea urchins, a fair amount of EST and genomic data and a very extensive repertoire of effective molecular technologies.

We pursue an integrated, "vertical" mode of experimental analysis, in that our experiments are directed at all levels of biological organization, extending the transcription factor-DNA interactions that control spatial and temporal expression of specific genes in the embryo to the systems level analysis of large regulatory networks


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