1. Developmental Biology
  2. Genetics and Genomics
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Deployment of a retinal determination gene network drives directed cell migration in the sea urchin embryo

  1. Megan L Martik
  2. David R McClay  Is a corresponding author
  1. Duke University, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 20
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Cite this article as: eLife 2015;4:e08827 doi: 10.7554/eLife.08827


Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) provide a systems-level orchestration of an organism's genome encoded anatomy. As biological networks are revealed, they continue to answer many questions including knowledge of how GRNs control morphogenetic movements and how GRNs evolve. The migration of the small micromeres to the coelomic pouches in the sea urchin embryo provides an exceptional model for understanding the genomic regulatory control of morphogenesis. An assay using the robust homing potential of these cells reveals a "coherent feed-forward" transcriptional subcircuit composed of Pax6, Six3, Six1/2, Eya, and Dach1 that is responsible for the directed homing mechanism of these multipotent progenitors. The linkages of that circuit are strikingly similar to a circuit involved in retinal specification in Drosophila suggesting that systems-level tasks can be highly conserved even though the tasks drive unrelated processes in different animals.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Megan L Martik

    University Program in Genetics and Genomics, Duke University, Durham, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. David R McClay

    Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Marianne E Bronner, California Institute of Technology, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: May 19, 2015
  2. Accepted: September 23, 2015
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 24, 2015 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: October 27, 2015 (version 2)


© 2015, Martik & McClay

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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