An atlas of rabbit development as a model for single-cell comparative genomics

Mai-Linh Nu Ton, Daniel Keitley, Bart Theeuwes, Carolina Guibentif, Jonas Ahnfelt-Rønne, Thomas Kjærgaard Andreassen, Fernando J. Calero-Nieto, Ivan Imaz-Rosshandler, Blanca Pijuan-Sala, Jennifer Nichols, Èlia Benito-Gutiérrez*, John C Marioni*, Berthold Gottgens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Traditionally, the mouse has been the favoured vertebrate model for biomedical research, due to its experimental and genetic tractability. However, non-rodent embryological studies highlight that many aspects of early mouse development, such as its egg-cylinder gastrulation and method of implantation, diverge from other mammals, thus complicating inferences about human development. Like the human embryo, rabbits develop as a flat-bilaminar disc. Here we constructed a morphological and molecular atlas of rabbit development. We report transcriptional and chromatin accessibility profiles for over 180,000 single cells and high-resolution histology sections from embryos spanning gastrulation, implantation, amniogenesis and early organogenesis. Using a neighbourhood comparison pipeline, we compare the transcriptional landscape of rabbit and mouse at the scale of the entire organism. We characterize the gene regulatory programmes underlying trophoblast differentiation and identify signalling interactions involving the yolk sac mesothelium during haematopoiesis. We demonstrate how the combination of both rabbit and mouse atlases can be leveraged to extract new biological insights from sparse macaque and human data. The datasets and computational pipelines reported here set a framework for a broader cross-species approach to decipher early mammalian development, and are readily adaptable to deploy single-cell comparative genomics more broadly across biomedical research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Cell Biology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023


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