Abstract: Series 103, Lecture 3

The Harvey Lectures Series 103 (2007—2008)

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Lecture #3: Thursday, January 17, 2008 — Time and Location

Limb Development: Embryology and Genetics to Evo-Devo

Lee Niswander, PhD

Lee Niswander, PhD

Professor and Head of Developmental Biology Section, Pediatrics
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and The Children's Hospital

Denver, Colorado

Dr Niswander's Website

The embryonic vertebrate limb is a classic paradigm for the study of pattern formation, cell growth and death, and skeletal formation. Our understanding of the molecular signals that regulate limb patterning is relatively complete. However, many questions remain as to how these signals are interpreted and translated into skeletal elements that are adapted to the needs of each animal on land, sea and air. Outstanding questions in patterning and skeletal formation include how and when are limb cells specified and acquire distinct cell fates in order to contribute to specific skeletal elements and what are the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to the establishment of the skeletal elements of the correct size and shape? Our work has contributed to answers to these questions. Moreover, our experiments have shown that our current knowledge is deep enough to begin to unravel the molecular mechanisms that underlie evolutionary change in other animals such as the bat.