Chemical Embryology Redux: Metabolic Control of Development

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New studies of metabolic reactions and networks in embryos are making important additions to regulatory models of development, so far dominated by genes and signals. Metabolic control of development is not a new idea and can be traced back to Joseph Needham's 'Chemical Embryology', published in the 1930s. Even though Needham's ideas fell by the wayside with the advent of genetic studies of embryogenesis, they demonstrated that embryos provide convenient models for addressing fundamental questions in biochemistry and are now experiencing a comeback, enabled by the powerful merger of detailed mechanistic studies and systems-level techniques. Here we review recent results from studies that quantified the energy budget of embryogenesis in Drosophila and started to untangle the intricate connections between core anabolic processes and developmental transitions. Dynamic coordination of metabolic, genetic, and signaling networks appears to be essential for seamless progression of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-586
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


  • dNTP metabolism
  • embryonic cell cycle
  • embryonic energy budget
  • midblastula transition
  • negative feedback regulation
  • ribonucleotide reductase


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