Coming to Life


From American Scientist:

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is one of the pioneers in the groundbreaking discoveries that revealed how genes regulate the development of animal embryos. For this effort she shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Eric F. Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis. In Coming to Life, she provides an engaging and clear summary of what developmental biologists now understand about how embryos work.

The subtitle of Nüsslein-Volhard’s book is How Genes Drive Development. That’s really the essence of her conception of developmental biology, a view that guides the organization of the book. She begins with chapters that introduce the genetic machinery, heredity, chromosomes, genes and proteins. The development of Drosophila is indeed at the heart of her story: She elegantly and plainly describes the search for genes that regulate development and lays out the mechanisms by which their expression generates patterns in the growing embryo, explaining along the way how the proteins those genes encode interact with other genes. Here’s how it works: First, broad patterns are produced, followed by ever more precise ones that block out the body plan of a fly and the identities of its parts.

More here.