A gene regulatory network for neural induction

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During early vertebrate development, signals from a special region of the embryo, the organizer, can re-direct the fate of non-neural ectoderm cells to form a complete, patterned nervous system. This is called neural induction and has generally been imagined as a single signalling event, causing a switch of fate. Here we undertake a comprehensive analysis, in very fine time-course, of the events following exposure of competent ectoderm of the chick to the organizer (the tip of the primitive streak, Hensen's node). Using transcriptomics and epigenomics we generate a Gene Regulatory Network comprising 175 transcriptional regulators and 5,614 predicted interactions between them, with fine temporal dynamics from initial exposure to the signals to expression of mature neural plate markers. Using in situ hybridization, single-cell RNA-sequencing and reporter assays we show that the gene regulatory hierarchy of responses to a grafted organizer closely resembles the events of normal neural plate development. The study is accompanied by an extensive resource, including information about conservation of the predicted enhancers in other vertebrates.

Journal details

Journal eLife
Volume 12
Pages e73189
Available online
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Crick labs/facilities

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Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author