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Upcoming Distinguished Lecture with Mike Levine

By Eddy Ball
March 2009

The 2008-2009 NIEHS Distinguished Lecture series will welcome its next guest speaker March 10 at 11:00 a.m. in Rodbell Auditorium. Geneticist Mike Levine, Ph.D., will discuss "Transcriptional Precision in the Drosophila Embryo" during a talk hosted by Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis Principal Investigator Karen Adelman, Ph.D., who is head of the Transcriptional Responses to the Environment Group.

Levine ( Exit NIEHS is a professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. His lab studies gene networks that control animal development and disease, specifically in the early Drosophila embryo, the immune response in Drosophila larvae, and the differentiation of the notochord and heart in the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis.

Levine's talk will focus on the effects of polymerase II (Pol II) pausing and what he calls "shadow enhancers" in the expression of developmental control genes expressed during Drosophila embryogenesis. Shadow enhancers are secondary enhancers that produce patterns of gene expression that overlap those produced by the primary enhancers.

His lab's preliminary studies suggest that these mechanisms are used to produce rapid, synchronous bursts of gene expression in the early Drosophila embryo. Levine proposes that transcriptional synchrony helps ensure the coordination of genetic networks during embryogenesis.

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