2010 Lecture 23

From CellBiology


This lecture is about: – how the embryo makes use of cellular mechanisms (described during this term) to construct itself. It is concerned with concepts rather than detail. You should appreciate how these cellular mechanisms integrate to produce the whole organism.

CSt1 zygote.gif Human CST23.gif

The image above shows the first cell that forms following fertilization, and that cell's offspring 8 weeks later.


  • Understand the utility of model organisms in research on developmental mechanisms
  • Understand the conceptual importance of somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning) experiments
  • Understand the concept of how lineage restriction is controlled by the expression of DNA-binding transcription factors
  • Brief understanding of how transcription factor expression can be controlled by signaling pathways
  • Brief understanding of cell movements in development
  • Brief understanding of how apoptosis can create shape
  • Brief understanding of extracellular matrices in development

Lecture notes

Development Lecture 2010 6images/page for printing (PDF)

Development Lecture 2010 1image/page(PDF)

Lecture Summary

  • Williams-Beuren syndrome
  • Model organisms in developmental biology
  • Early embryogenesis, cleavage, blastocyst, embryonic stem cells
  • Patterning and transcription factors
  • Cell signaling
  • Apoptosis
  • Extracellular matrices


  • Cell lineage – a linear sequence of cell fate that traces progressive states of differentiation. Analogous to the "ancestry" of a cell – e.g. liver cells are derived from the endodermal lineage.
  • Embryonic patterning – the underlying mechanism by which a shapeless ball of cells is provided with the information required to develop into its appropriate anatomical form and structure.
  • Cell commitment (specification) – the process by which a cell becomes dedicated to becoming some other more mature cell type due to its position in the embryo or as a result of its cell lineage: reversible if exposed to a different environment e.g. grafted into another location.
  • Cell determination – the process by which a cell becomes irreversibly locked into a particular cell fate: precedes differentiation. However, the cell shows no outward signs of what they are destined to be.
  • Differentiation - the process by which a less specialized cell undergoes a recognizable change (of shape and/or function) into a more specialized cell type: irreversible (under normal circumstances).
  • Morphogenesis – The overall process by which the embryo resolves itself into a mature shape

Honours Projects - Dr Steve Palmer

Project 1: Understanding the genetic cause of Williams-Beuren syndrome and the genetic basis of human behaviour. Two genes that are disrupted in the human condition Williams-Beuren syndrome, Gtf2ird1 and Gtf2i, are implicated in developmental mechanisms and aspects of human cognition and behaviour. Molecular genetic techniques and knockout mouse models will be used in this study to investigate the function of these genes. The project involves state of the art molecular biology and bioinformatics as well as examination of genetically modified mice using behavioural analysis and brain function tests.

Project 2: Identification of genes involved in the specification of muscle fibre types. We have genetically altered the ratio of fast and slow twitch fibres in transgenic mice. This study will use molecular genetics and proteomics to identify the pathways that decide muscle fibre type. The cell biology aspect of this relates to the determination, development and differentiation of muscle fibres and their sub-specialization into specific twitch types. Also, the adult plasticity of skeletal muscle – ability to atrophy/hypertrophy and change fibre type in response to work demands.


2010 Course Content

Lectures: Cell Biology Introduction | Cells Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes | Cell Membranes and Compartments | Cell Nucleus | Cell Export - Exocytosis | Cell Import - Endocytosis | Cell Mitochondria | Cell Junctions | Cytoskeleton Introduction | Cytoskeleton 1 Intermediate Filaments | Cytoskeleton 2 Microtubules | Cytoskeleton 3 Microfilaments | Extracellular Matrix 1 | Extracellular Matrix 2 | Cell Cycle | Cell Division | Cell Death 1 | Cell Death 2 | Signal 1 | Signal 2 | Stem Cells 1 | Stem Cells 2 | Development | Revision

Laboratories: Introduction to Lab | Microscopy Methods | Preparation/Fixation | Immunochemistry | Cell Knockout Methods | Cytoskeleton Exercise | Confocal Microscopy | Microarray Visit | Tissue Culture 1 | Tissue Culture 2 | Stem Cells Lab | Stem Cells Analysis

Dr Mark Hill 2015, UNSW Cell Biology - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G