The fundamental problem of developmental biology is how a single cell- a fertilized egg- is able to produce an entire organism in all its complexity. One essential aspect of this process is spatial patterning-in essence, instructing cells as to their location in developing body so that they can exhibit characteristics appropriate to their functions. The Hox genes, first discovered in mutant fruit fly "hopeful monsters" with extra pairs of wings or legs growing out of their heads, confer spatial information along the anteroposterior axis in animals from worms to humans. Prof Marin's research focuses on the roles of specific Hox genes in sculpting the developing entral nervous system of the fruit fly and how the same gene can direct a neuron to die, survive, or send its axon in search of different connections, depending on cellular context.
Open Access Film
developmental biology, cell development, Hox genes