Friday, September 15, 2006

The devo book I want   posted by Coffee Mug @ 9/15/2006 02:17:00 PM

I read Endless Forms, and I read Coming to Life by Christ. But I still don't feel like I've got anything like a grip on development. Endless Forms avoided specific terminology too much IMHO. I don't think it necessarily helps anyone's understanding to make up a new term like "tool-kit genes" in place of "transcription factor." So I didn't learn all that much from Mr. Carroll. Coming to Life was a little less lay-book-ey, but still left out the details and (I felt) that there wasn't an overarching theme. It felt like a list of facts, a description, at a somewhat general level of what happens during development.

I think Dr. Davidson's new book, The Regulatory Genome: Gene Regulatory Networks In Development And Evolution, might be the solution I'm looking for. But since it is more like a textbook it comes at more of a textbook price: $70 new, ~$60 on Amazon. Dunno how quick I can get it at a library. Anyway, here is some from the book review in Nature Genetics:

The book begins with an introduction of his idea of the regulatory genome or the regulatory apparatus encoded in the genome. In the second chapter, he explains in detail cis-regulatory modules and the structural and functional basis of regulatory logic. Here the author emphasizes that comparison of genome sequences of different animals (or species) is helpful to identify highly conserved cis-regulatory modules. After a brief explanation in chapter 3 of animal development as a process of regulatory state specification, Davidson argues persuasively that cis-regulatory modules act as networks and that the gene regulatory networks are the key to understanding embryonic development (chapter 4) and evolutionary construction of various animal forms (chapter 5). It is also emphasized that computational and systems biological approaches are essential to create the networks. Every step of his logic is presented with examples to explain his idea, with beautiful, well-designed color figures. His concept of the significant roles of gene regulatory networks in development and evolution can be clearly understood using the aforementioned key terms. Namely, animal embryogenesis seems to be established by a complex combination of input and output linkages, plug-ins and differentiation gene regulatory batteries, usually in this order. The diversity of animal forms may be explained in terms of core kernels, alteration in deployment of plug-ins, input and output linkages and differentiation gene regulatory batteries. This order is important for understanding animal evolution at the level of phylum, class, order and family, respectively.