MOB-31303 Molecular Development


Studiepunten 3.00

Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. EHM Limpens
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. R Geurts
dr. ir. EHM Limpens
Examiner(s)dr. ir. EHM Limpens

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

BIC-20306 Cell Physiology and Genetics, MOB-20306 Gene Technology.


Multicellular eukaryotes are in general formed from a fertilized egg and, by division and a differential use of the genetic information, a multicellular organism is formed composed of different cell types that are present in a specific pattern. One of the most important discoveries in biology is the observation that most animals, although they can have very different forms, share sets of genes that are key regulators of the body plan; the developmental toolkit. Within this toolkit 2 kinds of regulators are present: transcription factors and elements of signal transduction systems.

The most detailed knowledge concerning this toolkit has been obtained from molecular genetic research on Drosophila. Therefore the molecular mechanisms controlling Drosophila development will be described first. Students will also have to build models of developmental pathways, using computer simulations as a tool. Subsequently, the insights obtained with this system about the developmental toolkit will be applied to other systems.

In addition to pattern formation during embryogenesis attention will be given to stem cells and their potential to form post-embryonically differentiated cells as well as the mechanisms by which cells lose their potency to differentiate into other cell types. This part of the lectures will be put in the context of medical applications involving the cloning of organisms and the in vitro formation of specialized cell types and organs.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

- describe the molecular basis of pattern formation and differentiation during animal development;

- explain terms like morphogenetic determinants, gradients of morphogens, transcriptional regulation of maternal and zygotic genes, stem cell niche, self-organization, gene networks; 

- describe approaches to address developmental biology questions;
- construct quantitative models of a developmental process based on experimental data;
- read and interpret data in primary literature in this field.


- lectures;
- ICT modules;
- reading literature;
- discussions on specific topics.


The final mark will be based on a written examination with open questions, based on lectures, reader, papers and computer cases.


Reader and website.

Keuze voor: MBTBiotechnologyMScA: Spec. A - Cellular/Molecular Biotechnology4MO
MBTBiotechnologyMScC: Spec. C - Medical Biotechnology4MO
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScA: Spec. A Biomedical Research4MO
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScB: Spec. B Biological Chemistry4MO