Embryo Development's Trajectories are Tracked in "Roadmap"

Embryo Development's Trajectories are Tracked in "Roadmap" ...

Scientists have studied the key molecular changes that will intercede how embryonic mouse cells differ from the other types of cell types that will ultimately form all the genitals of the adult animal.

Besides formice, a mouse embryogenesis roadmap will help scientists understand the molecular assumptions that can be manipulated as an embryo grows and develops different specialized cell types, according to Jay Shendure, a scientist at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Shendure noted that while living as a one-cell zygote, the cell splitssand differentiatesinto hundreds of cell types in just a few weeks or months. So, here''s how does this happen, and how does it affect the cells'' ability to take action? What genes are the influences that make those decisions?

Today, the researchers published their findings in the journalNature Genetics.Chengxiang Qiu, a computationalbiologist and doctoral student in the Shendure lab, was the main author of the paper.

Shendure and his colleagues drew on publicly available data from mouse experiments that used a technique known as scRNA-seq to trace this process.

Scientists may identify and quantify the levels of different messenger RNA molecules within individual cells. Becausethese mRNA are copied from activated genes, their presence in a cell indicates which genes are active at a certain time.

The researchers used scRNA-seq data they had collected from around 150,000 embryonic mouse cell nuclei every two hours over a crucial 24-hour period beginning on the eighth day of mouse embryonic development to supplement these findings.

Qiu compared these data and after adjusting them to reflect differences in the techniques used by different researchers, identified the state of the embryonic cells at 19 stages, from day 3.5 in the mouse embryonic development to day 13.5, when most of the key embryonic structures have been discovered. In mice, gestation, from a single-cell zygote to a live-born pup, takes only 21 days.

The resulting image reveals the changes in gene activity as cells develop and differentiate into different cell types. Of particular interest is the activity of genes for key regulatory proteins, called transcription factors, that can influence cell growth, development, and function, according to Qiu.

According to Qiu, the cells travel into different cell types as it approaches embryogenesis, according to the tycoon. Transcription factors that are effective at these branch points tend to be specific for a new cell type. On the one hand, some transcription factors appear to be effective in many different cell types, indicating they play a more general role in cell growth and function.

The researchers hope to obtain scRNA-seq data from more and more areas in embryonic development in order to discover gene expression variations in depth. The project hopes the new map, called TOME (TrajectoriesOfMammalianEmbryogenesis), will serve as a resource for researchers interested in many aspects of embryonic development.

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