Research highlight

Looking at an embryo in the making

Nature Communications

February 15, 2012

An improved in vitro method for the visualization of the mouse embryo as it develops, is reported in Nature Communications this week. This technique provides insights into the mechanisms of mouse embryonic development after the fertilized mouse egg implants in the uterus. The stages of embryonic development that follow the implantation of the embryo in the mother’s uterus have been difficult to study because the embryo becomes inaccessible. Building upon previously established methods that mimic the conditions of the uterus in vitro, Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz and colleagues have developed a technique that allows the study of the development of the fertilized mouse egg outside the mother in real-time. They show that they can track the behaviour of single cells from before - and through each of - the implantation stages, by collecting high-resolution images at frequent intervals. This in vitro mouse culture system may prove useful for the examination of the behaviour of different cells in ‘living’ embryos over time in the laboratory.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1671

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