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Profile Publications(54)

Antony J. Durston



Research Description

A.J.Durston1, N. Bardine1, S. Wacker2 and H. Jansen1

Classical embryology is a source of inspiration. It can point you in the right direction. We used it to formulate a Hox problem. We demonstrated  that the trunk’s axial  pattern in the Amphibian Xenopus laevis is generated by a timer  in non organiser mesoderm (NOM) in the gastrula. This  interacts with the gastrula’s Spemann organiser (SO) to generate he embryo’s axial Hox pattern: The timed information is frozen at different positional values. We found evidence as to the molecular identity of the timer and the roles of the SO, NOM and other gastrula tissues.
This mechanism involves specific transmission of positional information between different tissues in the gastrula. We investigated this aspect. This occurs by: vertical signalling, an amazing mechanism that accurately copies positional information from one tissue layer to another.  We showed that this copying of complex positional information is mediated by a totally unexpected molecular mechanism, which is highly fit for purpose.  The central importance of this unexpected signalling mechanism is at first sight surprising . We believe this primitive mechanism, which presumably evolved early in evolution,  to enable unambiguous copying of complex information, is the original ancestral mechanism that evolved to mediate intercellular information transfer during axial patterning by the highly conserved Hox genes.
Wacker SA, Jansen HJ, McNulty CL, Houtzager E, Durston AJ. (2004)Timed interactions between the Hox expressing non-organiser mesoderm and the Spemann organiser generate positional information during vertebrate gastrulation. Dev Biol.;268(1):207-19. 
A.J.Durston, H.J.Jansen and S.A. Wacker.(2010) Review: Time-Space Translation Regulates Trunk Axial Patterning In The Early Vertebrate Embryo.  Genomics 95, 250-255. 
Lydia Michaut1, 4, Hans J. Jansen2, 4, Nabila Bardine3, Antony J. Durston2, and Walter J. Gehring1 (2011) Analysing the function of a hox gene: an evolutionary approach. Development, Growth and Differentiation, Volume 53, Issue 9, pages 982–993, December 2011.

Lab Memberships

Durston Lab (Principal Investigator/Director)


Durston Laboratory
Institute of Biology UL
Sylvius Laboratory
Wassenaarseweg 72
Leiden, ZH
2333 BE, The Netherlands


Web Page:

Phone:  31-30-2121977

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