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Paper   IPM / Biological / 13897
School of Biological Sciences
  Title:   Increased robustness of early embryogenesis through collective decision-making by key transcription factors
1.  A. Sharifi-Zarchi.
2.  M. Totonchi.
3.  K. Khaloughi.
4.  R. Karamzadeh.
5.  M. J. Araúzo-Bravo.
6.  H. Baharvand.
7.  R. Tusserkani.
8.  H. Pezeshk.
9.  H. R. Chitsaz.
10.  M. Sadeghi.
  Status:   Published
  Journal: BMC Systems Biology
  Vol.:  DOI:10.1186/s12918-015-0169-8
  Year:  2015
  Supported by:  IPM
Abstract Background: Understanding the mechanisms by which hundreds of diverse cell types develop from a single mammalian zygote has been a central challenge of developmental biology. Conrad H. Waddington, in his metaphoric �??epigenetic landscape�?� visualized the early embryogenesis as a hierarchy of lineage bifurcations. In each bifurcation, a single progenitor cell type produces two different cell lineages. The tristable dynamical systems are used to model the lineage bifurcations. It is also shown that a genetic circuit consisting of two auto-activating transcription factors (TFs) with cross inhibitions can form a tristable dynamical system. Results: We used gene expression profiles of pre-implantation mouse embryos at the single cell resolution to visualize the Waddington landscape of the early embryogenesis. For each lineage bifurcation we identified two clusters of TFs �?? rather than two single TFs as previously proposed �?? that had opposite expression patterns between the pair of bifurcated cell types. The regulatory circuitry among each pair of TF clusters resembled a genetic circuit of a pair of single TFs; it consisted of positive feedbacks among the TFs of the same cluster, and negative interactions among the members of the opposite clusters. Our analyses indicated that the tristable dynamical system of the two-cluster regulatory circuitry is more robust than the genetic circuit of two single TFs. Conclusions: We propose that a modular hierarchy of regulatory circuits, each consisting of two mutually inhibiting and auto-activating TF clusters, can form hierarchical lineage bifurcations with improved safeguarding of critical early embryogenesis against biological perturbations. Furthermore, our computationally fast framework for modeling and visualizing the epigenetic landscape can be used to obtain insights from experimental data of development at the single cell resolution

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