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Home »  Biology »  Genetics

Developmental Genetics

Topic Review on "Title":

From a fertilized egg to a grown up individual, every step is controlled by genes. Developmental genetics is a branch to study control of cell growth, differentiation and morphogenesis, which is the process that gives rise to tissues, organs and anatomy. In more details, it is the study of cell fate, cell determination and differentiation. 

Developmental theories
The Mosaic Theory was proposed by Wilhelm Roux and August Weismann in 1890s. It has a few points: Determinants specify the various differentiation pathways; Unequal cell division leads to determination.  More recently, The Theory of Differential Gene Expression takes a leading position.  This theory believes that differentiation occurs as a result of differential gene expression, i.e., in a particular cell, only a subset of the total genes are expressed.

Potency of stem cells
The ability to divide and produce all the differentiated cells in an organism, including extraembryonic tissues, is called totipotent.  To a less extent, a pluripotent and mulipotent stem cell only give rise to certain types of organs and tissues, a unipotent stem cell gives rise to a family of related cells.  From ES cells to pluripotent, multipotent, unipotent cells to differentiated cells, it forms a cell lineage.  For each cell lineage, there is a master control gene which activates a group of downstream genes and define the lineage differentiation. 

Nuclear reprogramming
Due to the changes of gene expression patterns, a differentiated cell can undergo nuclear reprogramming and de-differentiates.  It is the reason why it is possible to clone animals.

Immune cell fate
All the immune cells are derived from bone marrow stem cells.   Each Step of differentiation follow the general rule of differential gene expression.  B cells are antibody-producing cells, each development step of B cells occurs through several stages representing a change in the genome content at the antibody loci.  Via recombination, millions of different types of B cells are produced in vivo and thus the antibody diversity is achieved.

Rapid Study Kit for "Title":
Flash Movie Flash Game Flash Card
Core Concept Tutorial Problem Solving Drill Review Cheat Sheet

"Title" Tutorial Summary :

Cell fate determination and cell differentiation follows two theories: mosaic theory and theory of differential gene expression.  The determinants for mosaic theory may be RNA. Theory of differential gene expression is more widely accepted and studied nowadays.  From ES cells to pluripotent, multipotent, unipotent cells to differentiated cells, it forms a cell lineage.  For each cell lineage, there is a master control gene which activates a group of downstream genes and defines the lineage differentiation.  In agreement with this theory, a differentiated cell can undergo nuclear reprogramming and de-differentiates, this is the basis of somatic cloning of animals.  B cell maturation undergo a series of differential gene expression, as well as DNA recombination, giving rise to diversity of antibodies. 

Tutorial Features:
  • Concept map which shows cell determination and cell differentiation theories and mechanisms.
  • Flow chart to show various differentiation stages.
  • Summary sheet and key concept sheets to keep the content easy to memorize.
  • Illustration of hemaepoietic stem cell differentiation and muscle cell differentiation.
  • Detailed steps of animal cloning and nuclear reprogramming.
  • Detailed explanation on how antibody diversity is achieved.

"Title" Topic List:


  • Definition of developmental genetics
  • Cell fate and cell ditermination
  • Cell differentiation
  • The key questions and answers

Developmental theory

  • Overview
  • The mosaic theory
  • The flaw of mosaic theory
  • Potency of stem cells
  • Cell lineage
  • Theory of differential gene expression
  • Master control gene
  • Muscle cell differentiaion

Nuclear reprogramming

  • Gene activity in differentiated cells
  • De-defferentiation
  • Trans-differentiation
  • Summary
  • Nuclear reprogramming
  • Cloning of Dolly

Immune cell fate

  • Immune cell differentiation
  • B cell and antibody
  • Achieving antibody diversity

See all 24 lessons in Genetics, including concept tutorials, problem drills and cheat sheets:
Teach Yourself Genetics Visually in 24 Hours

Home »  Biology »  Genetics
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