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CRISPR/Cas9 Embryo Gene-Editing Reveals Species-specific OCT4 Function

A new study employs CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing to uncover differing developmental roles for the OCT4 pluripotency gene in human and mouse early embryos

New Study Details Somatic Mutations in the Early Embryo

Sophisticated analysis of human adult cells has allowed researchers to pinpoint somatic mutations that occur in the developing embryo

Developmental Epigenetics Unlocked - “A unique regulatory phase of DNA methylation in the early mammalian embryo”

DNA methylation during mouse development is known to be a dynamic process; fertilization involves the removal of paternally contributed DNA, and this loss of DNA methylation continues until the blastocyst stage, when the inner cell mass (ICM) forms (Reik et al). After this stage, embryo implantation occurs alongside global re-methylation of the genome that is believed to contribute to lineage restriction and the loss of cellular potency (Kafri et al and Borgel et al).   However, while this model is informative, no base-resolution maps covering stages of mouse development have been constructed to allow for its precise analysis. Now in a report published in Nature from the laboratory of Alexander Meissner at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, USA, researchers have generated such maps, providing provide a genome-scale, base-resolution timeline of DNA methylation where they demonstrate the dynamic nature of this epigenetic mark, before it returns to an expected somatic pattern (Smith and Chan et al).

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