Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Transcriptional and epigenetic control of cell fate decisions in early embryos

Ramiro Alberio
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, LE12 5RD, UK. Email: ramiro.alberio@nottingham.ac.uk

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 30(1) 73-84 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD17403
Published: 4 December 2017

Journal Compilation © IETS 2018 Open Access CC BY

Abstract

Mammalian embryo development is characterised by regulative mechanisms of lineage segregation and cell specification. A combination of carefully orchestrated gene expression networks, signalling pathways and epigenetic marks defines specific developmental stages that can now be resolved at the single-cell level. These new ways to depict developmental processes have the potential to provide answers to unresolved questions on how lineage allocation and cell fate decisions are made during embryogenesis. Over the past few years, a flurry of studies reporting detailed single-cell transcription profiles in early embryos has complemented observations acquired using live cell imaging following gene editing techniques to manipulate specific genes. The adoption of this newly available toolkit is reshaping how researchers are designing experiments and how they view animal development. This review presents an overview of the current knowledge on lineage segregation and cell specification in mammals, and discusses some of the outstanding questions that current technological advances can help scientists address, like never before.

Additional keywords: epiblast, gastrulation, lineage segregation, primordial germ cells, stem cells.


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