Antony J Durston
PositionProfessor Emeritus of Embryology
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.
Lab MembershipsDurston Lab (retired) (Principal Investigator/Director)
Institute of Biology UL
2333 BE, The Netherlands