Photo by Sarah Dutton / © Mississippi State University
Welcome to the Range Lab
Embryonic axes form the framework upon which the animal body plan is built during development. Research in our lab focuses on one of the fundamental questions in developmental biology - how signaling transduction pathways control the gene regulatory networks that specify and pattern territories along these axes during early embryonic development. We are particularly interested in both the early regulatory mechanism(s) that activate the anterior neuroectoderm and the role of a Wnt signaling network we have identified that separates this territory from the epidermal ectoderm and the posterior endomesoderm along the anterior-posterior axis. We use a combination of molecular manipulations, high-throughput genome-wide assays, gene regulatory network analysis and classical embryology to study these fundamental mechanisms in deuterostome echinoderm (sea urchin) and hemichordate (acorn worm) embryos. Echinoderms, hemichordates and vertebrates share a common ancestor, and studies have shown that many of the early regulatory mechanisms used to specify and pattern similar tissues are often conserved in deuterostomes. Thus, our studies can lead to the identification of core regulatory processes that specify and pattern vertebrate embryos along the anterior-posterior axis.