developmental biologists map multi-gene activity hotspots in developing embryos for the first time
External views of mouse embryos after 10.5 days of embryonic development. The embryos on the left show a technique for revealing where individual genes are expressed (Wnt1, Wnt5a and Wnt11). The middle panel shows the mapping of three gene expression patterns as indicated. On the right, the patterns of all 19 Wnt encoding genes are shown, each in a different color. The embryo space is mapped out by the different expression patterns of these genes, each vital for normal development; a mutation in any one gene can be lethal. Credit: Professor Paula Murphy, Trinity College Dublin.

Years of work by developmental biologists from Trinity College Dublin, working with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Human Genetics Unit, has yielded a resource that will help researchers assess how key genes control the differentiation of tissues and organs of developing embryos.

The collaborative team, which has just published the work in the journal, Development, analyzed these key genes, their communication links, and their impacts in the 3D space of the mouse embryo across multiple stages of development.

We sat down with Professor Paula Murphy, from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, to find out more about the research and its wider implications.

What leap forward has this work taken?

Certain genes and gene networks play an important role in determining how an embryo develops, how different cell types (muscle, bone, neuron) form, and where organs appear. For a few decades now, using molecular biology techniques, we could discover where and when one of these “Wnt genes” is switched on, helping us to understand how it operates in guiding embryonic development.

The technique would have to be performed for each gene individually to get a ‘snapshot’ of where it is expressed in 3D embryo space at a particular time. What we have managed to achieve here is the difficult task of mapping these spatial data snapshots for many genes, integrating and comparing where each gene is switched on within the developing embryo. Developing the tools to be able to do this was a major achievement for our computational biology colleagues at the Edinburgh Mouse Atlas project.

developmental biologists map multi-gene activity hotspots in developing embryos for the first time
External view of 10.5 day mouse embryo showing the “hot spots” where multiple signaling genes are co-expressed in magenta. Credit: Professor Paula Murphy, Trinity College Dublin.

Were you surprised by anything you discovered?

This approach allowed us to make a number of discoveries that would not have been possible without integrating (mapping) all of the patterns. For example, we could reveal where the pathway is silent because one or other of the components is not activated.

Probably the most novel finding was that there are “hot spots” in the embryo where very many of these genes are turned on together. Some of these hot spots are known to be the location of important groups of cells that guide development, but some were previously unknown and reveal previously invisible signaling centers in the embryo.

What other research question(s) can developmental biologists now ask?

Accompanying this publication, we have made all of the raw and mapped data freely available, as well as the tools for visualizing them so that any developmental biologist can ask questions about this cell communication system in any part of the embryo. For example, colleagues interested in kidney development or brain development can delve in detail into the system components switched on in that part of the embryo.

We and others can now also use these data to ask questions about how the system has evolved. For example, there are 19 very similar genes in a mouse and a human. These multiple genes have arisen by gene duplication a very long time ago. We can now examine how the genes have diverged, each taking on unique functions during development of a complex multicellular embryo.

What are the next steps for your team?

We are currently carrying out focused analysis of the integrated data set in the developing limb buds to understand better how the cell communication system operates in the limb. We also look forward to seeing how the data will be used by colleagues with different specialist interests to further our understanding of all developing systems. More information: Paula Murphy et al, Integrated analysis of Wnt signalling system component gene expression, Development (2022). DOI: 10.1242/dev.200312 Journal information: Development

Provided by Trinity College Dublin Citation: Developmental biologists map multi-gene activity hotspots in developing embryos for the first time (2022, August 19) retrieved 19 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-developmental-biologists-multi-gene-hotspots-embryos.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Keyword: Developmental biologists map multi-gene activity hotspots in developing embryos for the first time

TECH'S NEWS RELATED

Unlocking the doors to effective COVID-19 treatments

Credit: Majid D. Farahani et al, DOI: 10.1002/cmdc.202200092 A team of interdisciplinary researchers from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) is hoping to identify effective COVID-19 therapeutics. With help from the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan, the team has been able to visualize ...

View more: Unlocking the doors to effective COVID-19 treatments

The 9 best bone conduction headphones in 2022

Deals you can find right now The best bone conduction headphones Best overall: Shokz OpenRun Pro Shokz OpenRun Pro Still really great: Shokz OpenRun Shokz OpenRun Best budget pick for swimmers: Shokz OpenSwim Shokz OpenSwim Best for swimmers: Zygo Solo Zygo Solo Best value: AfterShokz Trekz Air AfterShokz Trekz ...

View more: The 9 best bone conduction headphones in 2022

Dogs can smell when we're stressed out, a new study shows

Thirty-six rescued beagles sent from illegal research facility to Chicago More news about dogs It’s long been widely believed that dogs can detect extreme emotions by smell. Now scientists at Queen’s University Belfast in the U.K. have proven that a dog’s nose knows. Acute stress changes the compounds found ...

View more: Dogs can smell when we're stressed out, a new study shows

Gas pipline leaks around 1/3 of Denmark’s yearly CO2 emissions, E.U. official says

BRUSSELS — The European Union suspects that damage to two underwater natural gas pipelines was sabotage and is warning of retaliation for any attack on Europe’s energy networks, a senior official said Wednesday, as energy companies began ramping up security. The episode underscored the vulnerability of Europe’s energy infrastructure and further ...

View more: Gas pipline leaks around 1/3 of Denmark’s yearly CO2 emissions, E.U. official says

A Good Night’s Sleep Is a Tonic to Remember

Summary: Researchers reveal why a good night’s sleep helps boost learning and memory. Source: Horizons Scientists are probing what happens in the brain as people slumber and how they can enjoy the restorative effects of better deep sleep. Everyone suffers restless nights from time to time. Chewing over failures or ...

View more: A Good Night’s Sleep Is a Tonic to Remember

What’s in a Word? Identifying Language Disorders Earlier Can Set Children up for Success

Summary: The earlier language disorders in children are identified, the earlier help can be provided to insure fluid language acquisition. Source: Purdue University A child’s first word can be a meaningful milestone for parents. But sometimes, children don’t have to say anything at all to teach us about how they ...

View more: What’s in a Word? Identifying Language Disorders Earlier Can Set Children up for Success

Apple ditches iPhone production increase after demand falters

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain Apple Inc. is backing off plans to increase production of its new iPhones this year after an anticipated surge in demand failed to materialize, according to people familiar with the matter. The Cupertino, California-based electronics maker has told suppliers to pull back from efforts to ...

View more: Apple ditches iPhone production increase after demand falters

Rotten Tomatoes scores are in for Netflix’s shocking new movie Blonde

Blonde Rotten Tomatoes Viewer reactions I can’t say I didn’t see this one coming. Today (Wednesday, September 28) is the launch day on Netflix for the streamer’s highly anticipated Marilyn Monroe not-quite-biopic, and the shocked reactions it’s eliciting from reviewers are starting to pour in. As a matter of ...

View more: Rotten Tomatoes scores are in for Netflix’s shocking new movie Blonde

Feeding behavior traits may be an indicator of feed efficiency in Holstein cows

Have an Old Echo Dot? Eero Wants to Turn It Into a Mesh Wi-Fi Extender for Free

Can a focus on politicians make the EU seem more human?

Exploring a new algorithm for reconstructing particles

Can gold mining be more sustainable?

Newly discovered protein could be used to produce life-saving antifungals

You Can Now Find Songs on Deezer Just by Humming

NASA Prepares for Hurricane Ian Arrival – Assesses Artemis I Forward Plan

Tonga is home to 170 islands. A new one just formed from an underwater volcanic eruption

Potential first traces of the universe's earliest stars

When dangerous toxins teach fundamental biology

Every new device Amazon announced at its fall 2022 event

OTHER TECH NEWS

;