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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol January 1, 2010; 26 1-20.

Enzymes, embryos, and ancestors.

In the 1950s, cellular regulatory mechanisms were newly recognized; with Arthur Pardee I investigated the initial enzyme of pyrimidine biosynthesis, which he discovered is controlled by feedback inhibition. The protein proved unusual in having separate but interacting sites for substrates and regulators. Howard Schachman and I dissociated the protein into different subunits, one binding regulators and one substrates. The enzyme became an early prime example of allostery. In developmental biology I studied the egg of the frog, Xenopus laevis, characterizing early processes of axis formation. My excellent students and I described cortical rotation, a 30° movement of the egg''s cortex over tracks of parallel microtubules anchored to the underlying cytoplasmic core, and we perturbed it to alter Spemann''s organizer and effect spectacular phenotypes. The entire sequence of events has been elucidated by others at the molecular level, making Xenopus a prime example of vertebrate axis formation. Marc Kirschner, Christopher Lowe, and I then compared hemichordate (half-chordate) and chordate early development. Despite anatomical-physiological differences, these groups share numerous steps of axis formation, ones that were probably already in use in their pre-Cambrian ancestor. I''ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring these areas during a 50-year period of great advances in biological sciences by the worldwide research community.

PubMed ID: 20929311
Article link: Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol

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