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Decoding development: mRNA's role in embryo formation

Decoding development: mRNA's role in embryo formation
Monitoring the embryonic maternal and zygotic transcriptomes at a single cell resolution. Credit: Nature Communications (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-47290-9

A new study at Hebrew University reveals insights into mRNA regulation during embryonic development. The study sheds light on the intricate process of mRNA regulation during embryonic development, providing novel insights into how pluripotent cells adopt specialized identities through gene expression.

The work is published in the journal Nature Communications.The research was led by Ph.D. Student Lior Fishman and team under the guidance of researcher Dr. Michal Rabani from The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Science at Hebrew University, and in collaboration with researchers from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S

Embryonic development involves assuming specialized identities by adopting particular gene expression profiles. However, understanding the relative contributions of mRNA transcription and degradation to shaping these profiles has been challenging, particularly within embryos with diverse cellular identities.

In the study, researchers used a technique called single-cell RNA sequencing along with metabolic labeling to track how genes are turned on and off over time in . They could tell apart the mRNA that was made new (from the embryo itself) and the mRNA that was already there (from the mother). Using mathematical models, they measured how fast genes were turned on and off in different types of cells as they developed.

The results of the study reveal highly varied regulatory rates across thousands of genes. The researchers observed coordinated transcription and destruction rates for many transcripts and linked differences in degradation to specific sequence elements. Importantly, they identified cell-type-specific differences in degradation, including selective retention of maternal transcripts within and enveloping layer cells, two of the earliest specified cell types.

Dr. Rabani, senior author of the study, commented, "Our study provides a quantitative approach to studying mRNA regulation during a dynamic spatio-temporal response. This work opens up new avenues for understanding the underlying cell fate determination during ."

The findings of this study contribute to a deeper understanding of mRNA regulation and its role in shaping cellular identities during embryonic development. The research team hopes that their work will pave the way for future studies aimed at unraveling the complexities of regulation in various biological contexts.

More information: Lior Fishman et al, Cell-type-specific mRNA transcription and degradation kinetics in zebrafish embryogenesis from metabolically labeled single-cell RNA-seq, Nature Communications (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-47290-9

Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: Decoding development: mRNA's role in embryo formation (2024, May 7) retrieved 16 June 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-05-decoding-mrna-role-embryo-formation.html
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