Dr. Ben Steventon
Laboratory of Comparative Developmental Dynamics Pattern formation in development is often seen as a product of global signalling mechanisms generating pattern across a particular tissue, which is then read by gene regulatory networks that result in changes to a cell’s cell fate and/or movement , However, given the dynamic nature of developmental processes, it is difficult to understand how such global patterns can be mapped onto a cellular substrate that is constantly shifting. For example, the basic body plan with anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral axes are established during gastrulation, when massive convergence and extension movements are constantly shifting cells in their spatial relationship to one another. How can simple cartesian coordinated be mapped onto such a dynamic structure? Rather than understanding pattern formation as a static read-out of global signalling mechanisms, I prefer to understand pattern formation as an emergent property of a dynamic system. In this framework, coupling of transitions in gene regulatory network state together with their spatial position within the tissue of interest is achieved by signalling. By linking these two processes in such a manner, pattern forms over time. This not only has the potential to explain how pattern forms during the complex movements of gastrulation, but also how seemingly conserved molecular mechanisms have been utilised in the patterning of the body axis of organisms with vastly different geometries.
Lab MembershipsSteventon Group (Principal Investigator/Director)
Department of Genetics
University of Cambridge