Single-cell multi-omics sequencing of human early embryos

Journal: Nature Cell Biology

Published: 2018-06-18

DOI: 10.1038/s41556-018-0123-2

Affiliations: 11

Authors: 14

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Research Highlight

An epigenetic atlas of human embryos

© JUAN GARTNER/Science Photo Library/Getty

© JUAN GARTNER/Science Photo Library/Getty

As a human embryo develops from a fertilized egg into a complex cluster of cells ready for implantation in the womb, the chemical tags adorning its DNA undergo a series of organizational changes.

A Peking University–led team has now profiled the nature of this epigenetic complexity down to the single-cell level in sperm, eggs and six stages of pre-implantation embryos. The detailed map of modifications to DNA and its spool-like coiling structures provides a vast informative resource for future mechanistic studies of early human development.

The researchers showed that DNA−protein complexes known as chromatin were most loosely packaged — allowing genes and regulatory elements to be more accessible and active — in eggs and in single-cell zygotes. Chemical alterations then prompted the chromatin to tighten its coils over the first few cell divisions before loosening again (and staying loose) after about four days of development.

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  1. Nature Cell Biology 20, 847–858 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41556-018-0123-2
Institutions Share
Peking University (PKU), China 0.67
Peking University Third Hospital (PUTH), China 0.22
West China Second University Hospital of Sichuan University (WCSUH), SCU, China 0.07
Center for Life Sciences (CLS), PKU, China 0.03
Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies (AAIS), PKU, China 0.01