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The single-cell transcriptional landscape of mammalian organogenesis

Most studies of mammalian organogenesis rely on model organisms, and, in particular, the mouse. Mice develop quickly, with just 21 days between fertilization and birth. The implantation of the blastocyst on embryonic day (E) 4.0 is followed by gastrulation and the formation of germ layers on E6.5–E7.51,2. At the early-somite stages, the embryo transits from gastrulation to early organogenesis, forming the neural plate and heart tube (E8.0–E8.5). In the ensuing days (E9.5–E13.5), the embryo expands from hundreds-of-thousands to over ten-million cells, and concurrently develops nearly all major organ systems. Unsurprisingly, these four days have been intensively studied. Indeed, most genes that underlie major developmental defects can be studied in this window