A Caltech Library Service

Tracing the origin of heterogeneity and symmetry breaking in the early mammalian embryo

Chen, Qi and Shi, Junchao and Tao, Yi and Zernicka-Goetz, Magdalena (2018) Tracing the origin of heterogeneity and symmetry breaking in the early mammalian embryo. Nature Communications, 9 . Art. No. 1819. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC5940674. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-04155-2.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


A fundamental question in developmental and stem cell biology concerns the origin and nature of signals that initiate asymmetry leading to pattern formation and self-organization. Instead of having prominent pre-patterning determinants as present in model organisms (worms, sea urchin, frog), we propose that the mammalian embryo takes advantage of more subtle cues such as compartmentalized intracellular reactions that generate micro-scale inhomogeneity, which is gradually amplified over several cellular generations to drive pattern formation while keeping developmental plasticity. It is therefore possible that by making use of compartmentalized information followed by its amplification, mammalian embryos would follow general principle of development found in other organisms in which the spatial cue is more robustly presented.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Chen, Qi0000-0001-6353-9589
Shi, Junchao0000-0002-1548-5069
Tao, Yi0000-0002-0749-6614
Zernicka-Goetz, Magdalena0000-0002-7004-2471
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2018. Open Access - This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit Received: 7 July 2017; Accepted: 6 April 2018. Published online: 08 May 2018. The work in MZG Lab is supported by grants from the ERC (669198) and the Wellcome Trust (098287/Z/12/Z) and in QC Lab by NIH (R01HD092431 and P30GM110767-03). We thank David Glover, Mubeen Goolam, and Xiudeng Zheng for feedback on the manuscript, and the members of our labs for suggestions. These authors contributed equally: Qi Chen, Junchao Shi. Author Contributions: M.Z.G., Q.C., and J.S. developed the concept and wrote the manuscript. Y.T. contributed to the mathematical aspects. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)669198
Wellcome Trust098287/Z/12/Z
PubMed Central ID:PMC5940674
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190408-111046445
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:94568
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Apr 2019 15:22
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:06

Repository Staff Only: item control page