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  current news   Press   selected story    
     
  30 March 2016  
 
A new study published in Cell reveals how mammalian cells become different from each other during the earliest stages of embryonic life.
 
 




Authors
Melanie D. White, Juan F. Angiolini, Yanina D. Alvarez, Ziqing Zhao, Stephanie Bissiere, Valeria Levi, Nicolas Plachta

Correspondence: plachtan@imcb.a-star.edu.sg (N.P.)

Published in Cell on 24 March 2016.

The group led by Nicolas Plachta (IMCB, A*STAR) developed imaging technologies to study how transcription factors (the proteins that control gene expression) bind to DNA in live mouse embryos. They used mouse embryos as these resemble almost perfectly the human embryo, and imaged them without perturbing their development. Immediately after fertilization, the newly created 'single-cell' embryo starts to divide to create a multicellular organism. But exactly when and how its cells adopt their first differentiated fate has long been a mystery. The team discovered differences in the way some transcription factors bind to their DNA target genes between the cells of the early embryo. They showed that more stable interactions between some transcription factors and their targets actually predict the fate of the cells later on. The findings promote a revision of classic models of embryo development. They may also help design more efficient strategies for screening human embryos for assisted reproduction and genetic diagnoses. Clinicians routinely remove cells from human embryos and analyze them for genetic defects, but it remains problematic to decide which of these embryos may be more successful when transplanted back in to the uterus. An important future goal is to detect abnormalities in single cells without physical manipulation. The development of this type of technologies to image single cells in intact embryos is a step forward in this direction.

Cell PaperFlick:
https://youtu.be/Nccvea2Seug

Plachta Lab:
http://www.imcb.a-star.edu.sg/php/np.php

Figure:

Figure legend: Quantification of the dynamics of Sox2- DNA binding in single cells of live mouse embryos shows that its heterogeneities in four-cell blastomeres are regulated by histone methylation and predict a bias in the contribution of cells to the inner mass.

Highlights:
- Transcription factors display temporally distinct DNA binding in live mouse embryos
- Sox2-DNA binding is heterogeneous between four-cell blastomeres within the embryo
- Histone 3 arginine 26 methylation regulates Sox2-DNA binding
- More Sox2 engaged in long-lived DNA binding predicts inner cell allocation

For more information on Nicolas PLACHTA 's lab, please click here.