ABSTRACT

Anterior mesoderm (AM) and definitive endoderm (DE) progenitors represent the earliest embryonic cell types that are specified during germ layer formation at the primitive streak (PS) of the mouse embryo. Genetic experiments indicate that both lineages segregate from Eomes-expressing progenitors in response to different Nodal signaling levels. However, the precise spatiotemporal pattern of the emergence of these cell types and molecular details of lineage segregation remain unexplored. We combined genetic fate labeling and imaging approaches with single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to follow the transcriptional identities and define lineage trajectories of Eomes-dependent cell types. Accordingly, all cells moving through the PS during the first day of gastrulation express Eomes. AM and DE specification occurs before cells leave the PS from Eomes-positive progenitors in a distinct spatiotemporal pattern. ScRNA-seq analysis further suggested the immediate and complete separation of AM and DE lineages from Eomes-expressing cells as last common bipotential progenitor.

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