Seminar "Highs and lows of the developmental GRN evolutionary landscape" by Prof. Veronica Hinman


Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - 15:00 to 16:00


C700, Lab3 Level C


Title: Highs and lows of the developmental GRN evolutionary landscape

Speaker: Professor Veronica Hinman

Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences Carnegie Mellon University


In this talk I will discuss the ways that developmental Gene Regulatory Networks (GRNs) can evolve.  GRNs describe the regulatory interactions between genes and are increasingly used to provide systems-level explanations of  how cells are specified during  development.  Sea urchins (Ph. Echinodermata), in particular have become a model system for understanding how GRNs control development.  We therefore use other species of echinoderms (including sea stars and sea cucumbers) to establish GRNs and then to compare these to the well known sea urchin networks.  This has allowed to determine how GRNs might be robust to evolutionary change as well as how these networks can evolve to make novel structures.  I will also present some recent work that explains how transcription factors might themselves evolve.  It is well documented that GRNs can evolve extensively through mutations to cis-regulatory modules, but our work also explains how these networks can evolve following changes in transcription factor binding specificities. This provides a new layer of investigation as to how development can evolve.


*For more information, you can find her publication list at


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