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Synthetic Model of Mouse Embryogenesis

The creation of a synthetic stem cell-derived mouse embryo with natural brain, heart, and other organ development is reported in Nature this week. The embryo represents a new model that could be used to study mechanisms of development and disease without the need for experimental animals. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are capable of undergoing many aspects of mammalian embryogenesis in vitro, but they do not follow all of the stages of natural embryo development. In this week's study, a team led by scientists from the University of Cambridge used three types of mouse stem cells — ESCs, trophoblast stem cells, and inducible extraembryonic endoderm stem cells — to create a model that recapitulated whole natural mouse embryo development in utero to day 8.5 including the establishment of all brain regions, a neural tube, a beating heart, and a gut tube. Additional experimentation showed that knocking out the gene Pax6, which controls sensory organ development, in the model resulted in similar effects as those seen in natural Pax6 knockout embryos. "We anticipate the widespread application of this system to dissect molecular pathways and to screen for chemical entities that affect embryogenesis," the researchers write.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.