The workshop will cover four broad topics that are particularly well-suited for quantitative analysis: genome analysis, pattern formation of the early embryo and wing imaginal disk, computational modeling of signal transduction pathways, and the elucidation and analysis of gene regulation networks.
As of this writing, the genomes of 12 different Drosophilids have been completely sequenced and assembled. These assemblies provide a rich foundation for the identification of conserved noncoding sequences including microRNA genes and regulatory DNAs.
Whole-genome methods provide the comprehensive identification of just about every gene and associated regulatory DNA responsible for complex developmental processes, including segmentation, gastrulation, neurogenesis, and wing morphogenesis. Current progress in each of these areas of research will be discussed with an eye towards future modeling efforts. Several critical processes such as EGF and TGFß signaling have already been successfully modeled, and the insights gleaned from these efforts will be discussed.
The last sessions will be devoted to gene regulatory networks. A combination of gene disruption assays, DNA binding assays, and cis-regulatory analysis permits the construction of networks, or circuit diagrams, that display the functional inter-connections among all of the regulatory genes and cell signaling components responsible for complex developmental processes. These networks can be used to create predictive changes in patterning processes, and to determine the mechanistic basis for the genesis of embryonic diversity and novelty during insect evolution. We will discuss the logic and topology of these networks, and also consider future goals such as the development of better visualization methods.