CONJ 542: Cell Biology of Development


Molecular mechanisms of development with emphasis on cell biological processes Offered every other year in complement with MCB 522: The Developmental Basis of Human Disease Conj542 will be next taught in 2020. Learning Objectives The goals of this course are:
  • to introduce students to the cell biological mechanisms that mediate developmental processes
  • to demonstrate the conservation of developmental processes across organisms and organ systems
  • to encourage curiosity-driven questioning
  • to enhance student skills required to analyze and interpret primary literature in cell and developmental biology, to develop presentation skills to communicate key ideas, and to write effective critiques of scientific literature
To achieve the first two goals, the course will focus on five topics that reveal how molecular processes within individual cells are coordinated across tissues to build structures.  The instructors will introduce each topic through an explanatory lecture and then devote three sessions to the discussion of key papers in the field. The topics are:
  1. how gradients of morphogens define cell types and determine the size and shape of tissues
  2. how apical-basal polarity within cells contributes to the establishment and maintenance of tissue architecture;
  3. how cytoskeletal and motor proteins create tensile forces that change cell shapes and alter tissue structures;
  4.  how the trafficking of molecules in and out of cells contributes to apical/basal polarity and influences the formation of lumens and extracellular matrix;
  5. how differential adhesion facilitates construction of tissue types and the movement of cells within and through tissue layers.
To achieve the third and fourth goals, students will read each paper, including the supplementary data, and be prepared to explain the logic, methods, results, and conclusions described therein.  Students will participate in in-class discussions that will focus on novel findings within the papers and on questions that students propose based on their reading. Grading:    
  • 15% Questions on the readings.  Students will turn in at least three questions on the reading by 5 pm the day before class.
  • 50% In-class participation.  Students will explain the readings, discuss concepts, and raise questions that expand the discussion or that connect to other topics in the class.
  • 35% Final paper.  Students will write a review of a new manuscript on a topic discussed in the class; instructors must OK choice of manuscript prior to writing the paper.
Please visit the University of Washington Time Schedule for 
the most accurate information on Instructor, Quarter, 
Location, and Time.



Dave Raible, Celeste Berg











Foundational For:

    array(3) { ["id"]=> string(1) "4" ["aoi_title"]=> string(41) "Developmental Biology, Stem Cells & Aging" ["pod_item_id"]=> string(1) "4" }
  • Developmental Biology, Stem Cells & Aging

Elective For:

  • Cell Signaling & Cell/Environment Interactions

Course Attributes:

  • Lecture
  • Literature Review