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BBE- The Developmental and Organismal Biology Search Committee Seminar - Marcos Simoes-Costa | Tuesday, January 16, 2024 at 4 pm

Tuesday, January 16, 2024
4:00pm to 5:30pm
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BBE Seminar

Hosted by "The Developmental and Organismal Biology Search Committee"

Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Reception: 3:30 pm

Time: 4 pm

Location: Broad 100

Speaker: Marcos Simoes-Costa, Associate Professor

Department of Systems Biology

Harvard Medical School

"Decoding Diversity: Genomic Mechanisms Shaping Vertebrate Development and Evolution"

Cells in a developing embryo must differentiate at precise locations to form the adult body plan. This process relies on the interpretation of external cues that are sensed, recorded, and interpreted by embryonic cells. Using the neural crest and its progeny such as pigment cells and the craniofacial skeleton, my research group studies the mechanisms of genome regulation that support the generation of spatial complexity in vertebrate embryos. By examining genome architecture and function during neural crest development, we observed that the regulation of developmental genes depends on specialized cis-regulatory elements responsive to different stimuli. Signaling-responsive enhancers integrate cues from signaling pathways to mediate embryonic induction and patterning. Conversely, metabolism-responsive enhancers react to changes in the bioenergetic state of cells, linking cellular physiology with gene expression. Thus, distinct classes of regulatory elements allow the genome to convert multiple types of regulatory information into regionalized gene expression. To explore the significance of these elements in phenotypic variation and speciation, we studied closely related species of Amazonian birds that diverged less than a million years ago. We identified small changes in enhancer sequence that are under strong selective pressure and drastically alter transcriptional outputs, potentially leading to populations with different patterns of pigmentation. Together, these studies have identified cis-regulatory principles that enable the processing of various information types and demonstrate how changes in enhancer logic can lead to phenotypic variation during evolution.

For more information, please contact Tish Cheek by phone at 626-395-4952 or by email at [email protected].