Dev Biol 2017 Jan 13;421(2):93-107. Epub 2016 Dec 13.
Committee on Development, Regeneration, and Stem Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; Ben May Department for Cancer Research, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. Electronic address:
Among the mechanisms that steer cells to their correct fate during development, master regulatory networks are unique in their sufficiency to trigger a developmental program outside of its normal context. In this review we discuss the key features that underlie master regulatory potency during normal and ectopic development, focusing on two examples, the retinal determination gene network (RDGN) that directs eye development in the fruit fly and the pluripotency gene network (PGN) that maintains cell fate competency in the early mammalian embryo. In addition to the hierarchical transcriptional activation, extensive positive transcriptional feedback, and cooperative protein-protein interactions that enable master regulators to override competing cellular programs, recent evidence suggests that network topology must also be dynamic, with extensive rewiring of the interactions and feedback loops required to navigate the correct sequence of developmental transitions to reach a final fate. Read More