Dr. Yi-Hsien Su
PositionAssociate Research Fellow
Development of animal body plans is controlled by large networks of regulatory genes. Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) describe signaling pathways leading to the activation of DNA-recognizing regulatory proteins (transcription factors) and the interactions between the transcription factors and the modular DNA sequence elements that control spatial and temporal expression of regulatory genes. A given set of regulatory genes expressed in certain cells at a certain time during development specifies cell differentiation, organogenesis, and body plan formation. My research has been focused on understanding the causal links between regulatory factors including signaling molecules and transcription factors that constitute developmental gene GRNs. My lab is especially interested in molecular mechanisms regulating animal body plan formation and axial pattering. We use sea urchins as a model organism because their embryos are easy to observe and the organization of the embryo is relatively simple. The available genomic resources and microinjection technique also make them an ideal model for GRN analysis. In addition, during sea urchin development, their body plans change several times from a radial blastula to a bilateral gastrula, via a left-right asymmetric larva stage, and eventually form a peculiar penta-symmetric body plan that is characteristic to the phylum Echinodermata. In the past few years, our main focus is to understand how BMP signals pattern dorsal-ventral and left-right axis in the sea urchin embryo. Several research projects have been developed following this direction. In addition, we have also been working on acorn worm Ptychodera flava collected in Taiwan for comparison studies. Acorn worms belong to Hemichordate, which is a sister group to Echinoderms including sea urchins. The acorn worm studies will shed light on the evolution of developmental mechanisms in deuterostomes.
Lab MembershipsSu Lab (Principal Investigator/Director)