Tuesday, June 5, 2012
General Biology Seminar
"Gene regulatory networks orchestrating developmental checkpoints and effector states in the immune system"
Harinder Singh, Senior Director, Immunology, Genentech
Over the last decade, considerable progress has been made in the combined experimental and theoretical analyses of regulatory networks that are utilized by cells to process information about their environments and regulate their function. Much of this work has focused on gene regulatory networks (GRNs) in unicellular organisms. These studies have demonstrated that certain network topologies (motifs) are conserved and appear to have evolved to perform similar functions in a variety of contexts. The cells of multicellular organisms proceed through many developmental transitions and can acquire a multitude of differentiation states, each associated with a unique set of functions. The network topologies and dynamics underlying these more complex developmental programs are being intensively explored. Understanding metazoan GRNs from an integrated theoretical and experimental perspective is of great interest given the elaboration of cellular states that exhibit highly complex spatial and temporal dynamics. The mammalian immune system represents a powerful system for exploring GRNs that regulate developmental checkpoints and cellular differentiation. These networks culminate in the acquisition of effector functions for host defense against pathogens. The talk will focus on attempts to analyze the topologies and dynamics of such GRNs.