Sharon was such a bright human being. We have been so lucky to have shared part of our lives with her. Sharon was a passionate scientist, friend, spouse, sister, daughter, aunt, godmother, and a colleague. Please honor Sharon's memory by contributing to a fellowship in her name for mentoring young women in science.
Transcriptional networks have been shown to play a primary role in regulating development in both plants and animals. It is through their exquisite control of gene expression in both space and time that pattern and form can be established and maintained. Research in the Brady lab focuses on understanding how a network of transcriptional interactions regulates tissue development and function. The root of the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, is ideally suited to study the architecture of transcriptional networks as most cell types are rotationally symmetrical and developmental time can be read along the root’s longitudinal axis, facilitating characterization of spatiotemporal development.
These features have been exploited using methods to characterize whole genome expression in individual cell types and developmental time. A rich set of transcriptional patterns were revealed to underly root spatiotemporal development, particularly in stele tissue. The stele is the central part of the root or stem and contains vascular and other associated tissue. Its primary function is to transport solutes and nutrients, and its mechanically strong secondary cell wall produced in some of its cell types is of great importance in papers, textiles and biofuel. Using this expression data coupled with high throughput technology, two types of interactions have been identified: 1) interactions between stele-enriched transcription factors and the promoters of their target transcription factors and 2) between transcription factors themselves (homo- or hetero-dimers). In the Brady lab, we continue to use this combination of systems biology, genomics and genetic approaches to determine how general and cell type-specific transcriptional regulators contribute to cell type and tissue specification, differentiation and function. We also explore the temporal dynamics of such regulatory modules.
Our research regarding the properties of tissue-enriched transcriptional networks can be applied to other organisms to determine the degree to which transcriptional networks that guide tissue development are conserved.