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The NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series
After the Drosophila embryo has completed thirteen rounds of nuclear division, it consists of a single cell with about 6000 nuclei. In the ninety minutes that follow, it undergoes a series of profound morphological changes that convert the syncytial embryo into cellular blastoderm in which the 6000 cells have assigned fates and undergo region-specific cell shape changes. In the past 15 years, we have learned a great deal about the gradients and transcription factors that control cell fate, but we know much less about the cell biological mechanisms that
convert those cell fate decisions into actual cell behaviors. Because
the cell changes and movement in Drosophila share common feature with the behaviors of cells in all embryos, it is likely that understanding those mechanisms will shed light on fundamental processes controlling cell adhesion, cytoskeletal dynamics, protein targeting and cell polarity.
Eric F. Wieshaus, Ph.D., Princeton, Nobel Laureate, l995
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