Professor Denis Duboule ForMemRS
Professor of Biology, University of Geneva and Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne
After cloning the first large vertebrate Hox gene cluster, in 1986, Duboule reported in 1988 (with Steve Gaunt) that vertebrates use their homeotic genes with the same collinear principle that that reported by Ed Lewis in Drosophila. In 1989, Duboule and Krumlauf laboratories showed that the Hox gene system was globally conserved between vertebrates and invertebrates, suggesting that animals were built on the same general body plan. In the early 90's, He showed that limbs were built with the same genetic principles than the trunk, illustrating the genetic interdependency of the body parts. His work on fish fins lead to a model for the evolution of digits in tetrapods, in 1996. Ever since, Duboule has used mouse molecular genetics to understand how Hox genes are uniquely regulated during development, notably via epigenetic mechanisms. He has proposed several concepts to accompany this work, in particular the 'phylotypic hourglass' model in 1994.