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Mar 10, 2016
Sea urchin embryos begin zygotic transcription shortly after the egg is fertilized. Throughout the cleavage stages a series of transcription factors are activated and, along with signaling through a number of pathways, at least 15 different cell types are specified by the beginning of gastrulation. Experimentally, perturbation of contributing transcription factors, signals and receptors and their molecular consequences enabled the assembly of an extensive gene regulatory network model. That effort, pioneered and led by Eric Davidson and his laboratory, with many additional insights provided by other laboratories, provided the sea urchin community with a valuable resource. Here we describe the approaches used to enable the assembly of an advanced gene regulatory network model describing molecular diversification during early development. We then provide examples to show how a relatively advanced authenticated network can be used as a tool for discovery of how diverse developmental mechanisms are controlled and work.