© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The increase in complexity in an embryo over developmental time is perhaps one of the most intuitive processes of animal development. It is also intuitive that the embryo becomes progressively compartmentalized over time and space. In spite of this intuitiveness, there are no systematic attempts to quantify how this occurs. Here, we present a quantitative analysis of the compartmentalization and spatial complexity of Ciona intestinalis over developmental time by analyzing thousands of gene expression spatial patterns from the ANISEED database. We measure compartmentalization in two ways: as the relative volume of expression of genes and as the disparity in gene expression between body parts. We also use a measure of the curvature of each gene expression pattern in 3D space. These measures show a similar increase over time, with the most dramatic change occurring from the 112-cell stage to the early tailbud stage. Combined, these measures point to a global pattern of increase in complexity in the Ciona embryo. Finally, we cluster the different regions of the embryo depending on their gene expression similarity, within and between stages. Results from this clustering analysis, which partially correspond to known fate maps, provide a global quantitative overview about differentiation and compartmentalization between body parts at each developmental stage.
|Journal||Mechanisms of Development|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2017|