During development, a single cell is transformed into a highly complex organism through progressive cell division, specification and rearrangement. An important prerequisite for the emergence of patterns within the developing organism is to establish asymmetries at various scales, ranging from individual cells to the entire embryo, eventually giving rise to the different body structures. This becomes especially apparent during gastrulation, when the earliest major lineage restriction events lead to the formation of the different germ layers. Traditionally, the unfolding of the developmental program from symmetry breaking to germ layer formation has been studied by dissecting the contributions of different signaling pathways and cellular rearrangements in the in vivo context of intact embryos. Recent efforts, using the intrinsic capacity of embryonic stem cells to self-assemble and generate embryo-like structures de novo, have opened new avenues for understanding the many ways by which an embryo can be built and the influence of extrinsic factors therein. Here, we discuss and compare divergent and conserved strategies leading to germ layer formation in embryos as compared to in vitro systems, their upstream molecular cascades and the role of extrinsic factors in this process.
We thank Nicoletta Petridou, Diana Pinheiro, Cornelia Schwayer and Stefania Tavano for feedback on the manuscript. Research in the Heisenberg lab is supported by an ERC Advanced Grant (MECSPEC 742573) to C.-P.H. A.S. is a recipient of a DOC Fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Science.
Schauer A, Heisenberg C-PJ. Reassembling gastrulation. Developmental Biology. 2021;474:71-81. doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2020.12.014
Schauer, A., & Heisenberg, C.-P. J. (2021). Reassembling gastrulation. Developmental Biology. Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2020.12.014
Schauer, Alexandra, and Carl-Philipp J Heisenberg. “Reassembling Gastrulation.” Developmental Biology. Elsevier, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2020.12.014.
A. Schauer and C.-P. J. Heisenberg, “Reassembling gastrulation,” Developmental Biology, vol. 474. Elsevier, pp. 71–81, 2021.
Schauer A, Heisenberg C-PJ. 2021. Reassembling gastrulation. Developmental Biology. 474, 71–81.
Schauer, Alexandra, and Carl-Philipp J. Heisenberg. “Reassembling Gastrulation.” Developmental Biology, vol. 474, Elsevier, 2021, pp. 71–81, doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2020.12.014.
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