The mouse embryo is the canonical model for mammalian preimplantation development. Recent advances in single cell profiling allow detailed analysis of embryogenesis in other eutherian species, including human, to distinguish conserved from divergent regulatory programs and signalling pathways in the rodent paradigm. Here, we identify and compare transcriptional features of human, marmoset and mouse embryos by single cell RNA-seq. Zygotic genome activation correlates with the presence of polycomb repressive complexes in all three species, while ribosome biogenesis emerges as a predominant attribute in primate embryos, supporting prolonged translation of maternally deposited RNAs. We find that transposable element expression signatures are species, stage and lineage specific. The pluripotency network in the primate epiblast lacks certain regulators that are operative in mouse, but encompasses WNT components and genes associated with trophoblast specification. Sequential activation of GATA6, SOX17 and GATA4 markers of primitive endoderm identity is conserved in primates. Unexpectedly, OTX2 is also associated with primitive endoderm specification in human and non-human primate blastocysts. Our cross-species analysis demarcates both conserved and primate-specific features of preimplantation development, and underscores the molecular adaptability of early mammalian embryogenesis.
Metazoan life relies on the ability to develop specialised cell types from a single cell. In mammals, preimplantation development entails timely embryonic genome activation, establishment of a pluripotent cell population to form the foetus and segregation of extra-embryonic tissues for successful implantation. This is a highly adaptive process, subject to distinct selective pressures (Sheng, 2015; Friedli and Trono, 2015; Tseng et al., 2017). While the mouse model has been instrumental for our understanding of mammalian development, comparatively little is known about early human and non-human primate embryogenesis.
Primate development is protracted compared with rodents. Human zygotic genome activation (ZGA) occurs around the eight-cell stage, in contrast to the two-cell stage in mouse (Braude et al., 1988; Yan et al., 2013; Blakeley et al., 2015). At the compacted morula stage, in both rodents and primates, outer cells establish apical-basal polarity, which provides the basis for segregation of the inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE). In human, POU5F1 exhibits prolonged expression in the TE (Niakan and Eggan, 2013), in contrast to earlier restriction of Pou5f1 in the mouse ICM. The lineage specifiers NANOG and GATA6 are initially co-expressed in the rodent and primate ICM, and resolve into mutually exclusive patterns (Roode et al., 2012; Niakan and Eggan, 2013; Blakeley et al., 2015; Boroviak et al., 2015; Nakamura et al., 2016; Stirparo et al., 2018), concordant with the segregation of epiblast (EPI) and primitive endoderm (PrE) lineages in the late blastocyst. The EPI represents the founding population of the embryo proper (Gardner and Rossant, 1979), while the PrE gives rise to the yolk sac (Artus and Hadjantonakis, 2012; Schrode et al., 2013). In both rodents and primates, embryo implantation into the uterine wall is a landmark event, upon which the EPI acquires epithelial polarity (Enders et al., 1986; Bedzhov and Zernicka-Goetz, 2014) and the regulatory network governing pluripotency is reconfigured (Boroviak et al., 2015; Nakamura et al., 2016).
Rodent and primate embryos implant prior to gastrulation, unlike many other eutherian species, including rabbit, pig, sheep, cow and dog. Upon implantation, the mouse EPI forms an egg cylinder with a pro-amniotic cavity. The amnion is specified via the amniochorionic fold during gastrulation (Arnold and Robertson, 2009; Rossant and Tam, 2009; Pereira et al., 2011). In contrast, primates segregate extra-embryonic amnion directly from the EPI after implantation, giving rise to a flat embryonic disc (Rock and Hertig, 1948; Enders et al., 1986; Enders and King, 1988; Enders and Lopata, 1999). Primordial germ cells may be specified from nascent amnion in primates (Sasaki et al., 2016), underscoring the importance of this lineage decision. The ability of primate EPI to form an extra-embryonic tissue immediately after implantation is a distinctive feature of primate development, but the underlying transcriptional circuitry at the late blastocyst stage has remained elusive.
Single cell profiling of human embryos (Yan et al., 2013; Blakeley et al., 2015; Petropoulos et al., 2016) has revealed a multitude of ICM-associated transcription factors, epigenetic regulators and signalling pathway components. However, inherent limitations in the provenance of supernumerary human embryos by the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) route can yield research samples of varying cellular integrity, viability in culture and developmental stage. Despite these challenges, comparison with the mouse ICM has unveiled important differences, including specific expression of KLF17 and ARGFX, and increased TGFβ signalling pathway components. However, comparative transcriptional analysis of the second lineage decision and mature EPI specification has been impeded by lack of single-cell RNA-seq data for late mouse ICM samples to resolve distinct EPI and PrE populations (Blakeley et al., 2015). Ultimately, mouse-to-human comparisons alone are unable to elucidate subtle regulatory adaptations between individual species from broader evolutionary features.
Here, we have constructed a framework for cross-species analysis of embryonic lineages over a time course of preimplantation development in mouse, human and a non-human primate: the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). We hypothesised that defining hallmarks of early primate development would be consistently observed in human and marmoset, but not in mouse. Compiling stage-matched single cell transcriptomes from three mammalian species allowed us comprehensive insight into maternal programs, genome activation, stage-specific transcriptional regulatory networks, signalling pathways and transposable element signatures.
Cross-species transcriptome analysis of mammalian preimplantation development
Single cell embryo data was assembled from published studies and newly generated samples, to span a uniform time course of preimplantation development in human, marmoset and mouse (Fig. 1A). For human we used a compendium of RNA-seq data from multiple embryo profiling studies (Yan et al., 2013; Blakeley et al., 2015; Petropoulos et al., 2016) and extracted stage- and lineage-specific transcriptomes (Stirparo et al., 2018) that consistently recapitulate known marker expression in situ (Blakeley et al., 2015; Niakan and Eggan, 2013; Deglincerti et al., 2016).
We then produced single cell RNA-seq data from common marmoset embryos developed in utero, spanning zygote to late blastocyst preimplantation stages. Non-human primate species provide the means to collect embryos directly by non-surgical uterine flush, improving consistency of sample quality and embryo staging relative to IVF (see Materials and Methods). After screening for quality control, we retained 196 transcriptomes from 16 embryos over six developmental stages, including early and late ICM cells obtained by immunosurgery (Boroviak et al., 2015) (Fig. 1B, Table S1).
We compiled a similar data series for mouse by combining published data with newly sequenced embryos. To date, the most comprehensive transcriptome profiling analysis of mouse preimplantation development (Deng et al., 2014) did not extend to segregation of EPI and hypoblast (PrE) at the late blastocyst stage, which had limited previous cross-species comparisons to the early ICM (Blakeley et al., 2015). We therefore augmented this dataset with 117 single cell samples from the early and late ICM (Mohammed et al., 2017).
The complete dataset comprised 642 individual transcriptomes from six preimplantation stages in three mammalian species. Samples were stage matched to permit direct cross-species comparison, and sequencing libraries for all constituent samples were produced using the Smart-seq protocol (Picelli et al., 2013) to minimise technical differences.
Principal component analysis (PCA) of human (Fig. 1C, Fig. S1A), marmoset (Fig. 1D) and mouse (Fig. 1E, Fig. S1B) showed tight clustering of samples by developmental stage and time. In mouse, zygotes differed most from other developmental stages (Fig. 1E). However, human and marmoset four-cell embryos clustered closely with zygotes, while the eight-cell stage was distinct. Significantly, the major ZGA event is reported to occur at the eight-cell stage in human (Braude et al., 1988; Yan et al., 2013). Later preimplantation stages (compacted morula, early and late ICM) from primate were in close proximity to, but spatially segregated from, eight-cell embryos (Fig. 1C-E). Separation between zygote/four-cell to eight-cell clusters, and eight-cell to the remaining stages, accounted for most of the variability. This pattern suggests two major transcriptional waves during primate ZGA and contrasts with that observed in mouse, where the greatest separation occurs between zygote and four-cell, consistent with ZGA at the two-cell stage (Fig. S1B).
Hierarchical clustering of all samples based on orthologous genes showed that the transcriptional state of zygotic embryos interrogated prior to ZGA were most related, regardless of species and distinct from other developmental stages (Fig. 1F, Fig. S1C). The remaining mouse samples clustered predominantly with early primate embryos (four cell and eight cell), while human and marmoset compacted morulae, early and late ICM were consistently associated. To further assess individual stages, we performed correlation analysis based on mutual information entropy (Fig. 1G-I). In human, zygote and four-cell embryos correlated tightly, and were distinct from the eight-cell stage. Consistent with PCA results, compacted morulae, early and late ICM were colocalised (Fig. 1G). The marmoset closely recapitulated the human profile (Fig. 1H) and late primate stages showed a high degree of similarity in a combined analysis (Fig. S1D). In contrast, developmental stages in mouse followed a different pattern: four-cell, eight-cell and compacted morulae formed one cluster, whereas early and late ICM were distinct (Fig. 1I). Thus, the global transcriptional program of the preimplantation embryo differs significantly between mouse and primates.
The primate maternal program is enriched for ribosomal genes and contains a distinct set of epigenetic regulators
Maternally deposited transcripts are abundant in the ovum and persist to varying extents throughout early embryonic development. Among these, maternal effect genes have been defined in mouse as functionally required for early embryogenesis (Kim and Lee, 2014), but such data are not available for primates. Consistent with the established model, 3905 maternal transcripts were robustly detected (average FPKM≥10) in the mouse zygote, with 120 present at high levels (average FPKM>300, Table S2). The majority of these high-abundance RNAs were also found in both primate species, with the notable exceptions of POU5F1, HSF1 and DICER (Fig. 2A,B).
To extract the most prominent differences between rodent and primate maternal programs, we compared maternal transcripts in human, marmoset and mouse. Of 2939 detected in human, 74% were conserved in marmoset (Fig. 2C). Fifty-three percent of human maternal genes were found in mouse, and most displayed decreased abundance over time (Fig. 2D). Conserved maternal factors present in all three species comprised DPPA3, ZAR1, PADI6 and ZAR1L (Fig. S2A, Table S2). Mouse-specific factors included Atg5 and the KRAB domain protein-encoding gene Zfp57, which is implicated in imprint protection (Hirasawa and Feil, 2008) (Fig. S2B).
At the zygote stage, 856 transcripts were present (FPKM>10) in human and marmoset, but not in mouse (Fig. 2E, Fig. S2C). Pathway and Gene Ontology (GO) analyses identified genes associated with ‘ribosome’, ‘cytoplasmic ribosomal proteins’ and ‘translational termination’, indicating an abundance of transcripts involved in translational processing (Fig. S2D). Consistent results were obtained with individual GO term analyses confined to each species (Fig. S2E-G). We compared enrichment scores of the most significant processes identified in humans with those in marmoset and mouse (Fig. 2F). General biological processes, such as ‘gene expression’ and ‘mitotic cell cycle’ were elevated in all species. However, terms associated with translation were highly enriched in primates and lacking in mouse. We also assessed individual ribosomal transcript RNA levels and found substantial reductions in mouse relative to primates (Fig. 2G). These observations suggest that primate maternal programs are adapted to ensure extended translation of maternally deposited RNAs until later ZGA at the eight-cell stage.
Mouse maternal effect genes include de novo and maintenance DNA methyltransferases Dnmt3a (Okano et al., 1999) and Dnmt1 (Howell et al., 2001). We examined chromatin remodelling factors by hierarchical clustering (Fig. 2H, Table S2). In marmoset and human, zygotes displayed higher levels of TAF9, HDAC3 and CTR9 transcripts. DNMT1 was abundant in primates, whereas DNMT3A and DNMT3B were also conserved in mouse (Fig. 2I). Human DNMT3L was present only at low levels in the zygote and four-cell embryo, but elevated at the eight-cell stage and further upregulated in compacted morulae and early ICM; the marmoset followed a similar trend (Fig. 2I). This may suggest a requirement post-ZGA. We further observed that transcript levels of key members of polycomb repressive complexes 1 and 2 (PRC1/2, Beisel and Paro, 2011; Morey et al., 2015), including EED, SUZ12, EZH1 and EZH2, were substantially diminished or absent in primate zygotes (Fig. 2H). Strikingly, PRC components were upregulated in human and marmoset between the four- to eight-cell stages, corresponding to major ZGA timing (Fig. 2J). We conclude that PRC1 and PRC2 expression correlates with the onset of ZGA and is synchronous with species-specific developmental timing.
Stage-specific transcription in rodent and primate embryos
We applied self-organising maps (SOMs; Kohonen, 1982) to define stage-specific gene expression modules. This allowed sorting of transcripts by expression pattern into 900 clusters per species, and identification of genes associated with each of the six developmental stages (Fig. 3A, Fig. S3A,C, Table S3). Statistical enrichment identified ‘sexual reproduction’ and ‘chromosome segregation’ as processes associated with zygotes of all three species (Fig. 3A,B, Fig. S3A-D). Human and marmoset four-cell stages exhibited evidence of ‘negative regulation of transcription from RNA polymerase’ (Fig. 3B, Fig. S3B), suggesting ZGA may be actively repressed in primates. The eight-cell stage in human and marmoset was dominated by terms relating to ZGA, whereas mouse cells showed enrichment for the JAK-STAT cascade (Fig. 3B, Fig. S3B,D). In late ICM we observed enrichment of ‘endodermal cell differentiation’ and ‘extracellular matrix’, consistent with PrE segregation. Comparison of signalling pathways between species revealed ‘phosphatidylinositol signalling’ as conserved in zygotes, ‘spliceosome’, ‘RNA transport’ and ‘basal transcription factors’ at the eight-cell stage, and ‘lysosome’ and ‘oxidative phosphorylation’ in the early primate ICM (Fig. 3C-E).
We then extracted stage-specific transcription factors as candidates of regulatory interest (Fig. 3C-E). Human and marmoset shared JARID2 prior to ZGA, and concomitantly upregulated DDIT3, KLF17 and YY1, for which deletions in mouse are embryonic lethal (Donohoe et al., 1999), at the eight-cell stage. The maternal effect gene Zfp57, for which roles in imprint maintenance have recently been characterised (Strogantsev et al., 2015; Riso et al., 2016), was specific to mouse zygotes (Fig. 3E) but subsequently expressed in the early marmoset ICM (Fig. 3D). Human ZFP57 expression followed the pattern observed in marmoset (Table S3). In the late ICM, we found conserved expression of ETV4, SMAD6, KLF6 and the PrE markers SOX17 and FOXA2 in all species (Fig. 3C-E). Interestingly, the late mouse ICM alone expressed the pluripotency repressor Tcf7l1 (Tcf3) (Wray et al., 2011; Yi et al., 2011) together with Tcf15 and ETS-related factor Etv5, which is implicated in the onset of embryonic stem cell differentiation (Davies et al., 2013; Akagi et al., 2015) (Fig. 3E), The presence of such antagonists of the pluripotency network may contribute to accelerated progression of embryonic development in mouse relative to primates.
We next quantified the distribution of stage-specific genes between the three species (Fig. 3F). Human and marmoset both displayed substantially fewer zygote-specific transcripts (1261 and 1517, respectively) than mouse (3488). The inverse pattern was observed in the eight-cell embryo, correlating with ZGA in primates. By the end of the time series in late ICM cells, the numbers of stage-specific genes were similar in all species (Fig. 3F). This set of expression modules allowed us to define common and primate-specific processes at each developmental time point. Surprisingly, at the eight-cell stage, compacted morula and early ICM stages, we found little correspondence between rodents and primates (Fig. S3E-G). In human and marmoset, the eight-cell transcriptome exhibited clear signs of ZGA, whereas the early ICM featured lipid metabolism. However, in the late blastocyst, we identified several biological processes conserved in all species, including ERK signalling and upregulation of extracellular matrix components (Fig. 3G). We additionally identified a substantial fraction of primate-specific processes, primarily relating to WNT signalling, cell adhesion and apoptosis. This analysis faithfully captures known features of EPI and PrE segregation, and identifies a number of distinct features associated with this lineage decision in late primate blastocysts.
Non-human primate EPI and PrE specification
Cluster analysis indicated enrichment for both conserved and primate-specific features at EPI and PrE specification. This second lineage decision has been extensively described in mouse (Plusa et al., 2008; Artus et al., 2010, 2011; Artus and Hadjantonakis et al., 2012; Saiz and Plusa, 2013; Kang et al., 2013; Schrode et al., 2013, 2014; Ohnishi et al., 2014), and more recently, human (Yan et al., 2013; Blakeley et al., 2015; Petropoulos et al., 2016; Stirparo et al., 2018), but remains poorly characterised in other species, including non-human primates.
PCA of marmoset cells based on genome-wide expression resolved distinct sample groups by developmental time along the first dimension (Fig. 4A). Cells of the early ICM formed a cluster separate from compacted morulae and late ICM. Importantly, the late ICM began to diverge along the second dimension and, when those cells were examined in isolation, distinct EPI and PrE populations emerged (Fig. 4B, Fig. S4A). Pluripotency factors TGDF1, NANOG, GDF3 and KLF17 contributed to the EPI trajectory. Moreover, we found activin/Nodal signalling components NODAL and LEFTY2 prominent in the EPI cluster. Genes contributing to PrE segregation comprised PDGFRA, LAMA1, APOE, SPARC and RSPO3, a positive regulator of canonical WNT signalling (Nam et al., 2006).
To independently assess whether early ICM, EPI and PrE cells represent distinct populations, we performed weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA; Zhang and Horvath, 2005) based on highly variable genes (see Materials and Methods). We extracted three major co-expression modules by unsupervised clustering, corresponding to early ICM, PrE and EPI (Fig. 4C). These populations were consistent with cell fate assignment based on PCA (Fig. 4B, Fig. S4A).
We performed differential analysis between marmoset EPI and PrE expression signatures (Fig. 4D, Table S4). The EPI transcriptional network contained NANOG, LEFTY2 and TDGF1, whereas we identified APOA1, RSPO3, GPC3, FN1, PDGFRA and LAMA1 as PrE markers. Notable among the top EPI-specific genes was WNT5A, further suggesting a role for WNT signalling in lineage segregation. Differentially enriched biological processes in PrE featured cell migration, adhesion and lipid metabolism (Fig. S4B). EPI-enriched processes included transcriptional regulation, proliferation and a complex network of cell death-associated nodes (Fig. 4E), consistent with our cross-species comparison (Fig. 3G). Marmoset EPI contained a ‘DNA modification’ module (Fig. 4E), and the de novo DNA methyltransferase DNMT3B was among the top 25 differentially expressed genes in marmoset EPI versus PrE (Table S4).
We used gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA; Subramanian et al., 2005) to compare EPI versus PrE transcriptional signatures between species (Fig. 4F,G). There was significant concordance of genes differentially expressed between EPI and PrE in human and marmoset (Fig. 4F), but not human and mouse (Fig. 4G). Pearson correlation of marmoset EPI to human and mouse EPI was significantly higher in human, and similar results were obtained for PrE (data not shown). Collectively, these results support conservation in transcriptional networks in late primate ICM.
Analysis of all marmoset preimplantation stages based on variable genes showed unambiguous segregation of EPI and PrE, even in the presence of pre-ZGA stages (Fig. S4C). To define robust marker sets for EPI and PrE lineage acquisition in primates, we derived developmental trajectories based on pseudotime. Plotting known pluripotency and germ-cell-associated genes allowed us to discern expression levels, temporal dynamics, heterogeneity and EPI/PrE lineage association (Fig. S4D). We confirmed the absence of mouse-specific pluripotency markers FBXO15, GBX2, ESRRB, UTF1 and KLF2 in the marmoset preimplantation epiblast, similar to recent reports in human (Blakeley et al., 2015; Stirparo et al., 2018). NANOG, ARGFX, TFAP2C, MILR1 and KHDC3L were already expressed in morulae and early ICM, and retained in the EPI, but were downregulated in PrE (Fig. 4H). Conversely, TDGF1, LEFTY2, FGF4, IFITM5 and IGFBP2 were expressed at low abundance at earlier stages, but sharply upregulated upon EPI specification. We identified GATA6, LRP2, TBX3 and ANXA3 as early PrE markers robustly expressed prior to PrE specification, whereas APOA1, COL4A1, GDF6, RSPO3 and FST were exclusive to the mature PrE lineage.
We then mapped individual transcriptomes on a temporal trajectory for each species. Stage- and lineage-specific groups were largely apparent, recapitulating the relative duration of preimplantation development (marmoset>human>mouse) and early embryo progression characteristic of each species (Fig. 4I). We conclude that marmoset cells readily segregate into discrete clusters of early ICM, EPI and PrE, and mirror global features of human preimplantation development, including primate-specific marker acquisition and expression of canonical WNT signalling components. Temporal analysis further suggests that EPI is likely specified prior to PrE (Grabarek et al., 2012).
Transposcriptome signatures of rodent and primate preimplantation stages
We sought to define stage-specific transposable element signatures of rodent and primate preimplantation development. Transcription was detected in human embryo cells from more than 100,000 of 4,000,000 annotated repeat loci. Analysis of variably expressed elements largely distinguished developmental stages in human (Fig. 5A), marmoset (Fig. 5B) and mouse (Fig. 5C), although such classification was less definitive than analyses based on gene expression (Fig. 1C-E). Nevertheless, PCA of late ICM cells based on transposable elements accurately segregated EPI and PrE populations in all three species (Fig. S5A-C).
To elucidate dynamics of transposon expression in human embryos, we performed hierarchical clustering of 925 sequence families (Fig. S5D, Table S5). The majority were robustly expressed during early cleavage, with a substantial decline after the eight-cell stage. Similarly, marmoset cells showed extensive downregulation at the transition from eight-cell embryos to compacted morulae (Fig. S5E). In the mouse, a large fraction of transposable element families was upregulated at the four-cell stage and the majority sustained robust expression beyond eight cells (Fig. S5F). We also examined families associated with naïve versus primed pluripotency in cultured human pluripotent stem cells (PSC) (Theunissen et al., 2016; Collier et al., 2017), and found robust expression of SINE/VNTR/Alu (SVA) elements, specifically SVA_B, SVA_C, SVA_D, SVA_E and SVA_F, as well as HERVH-int and LTR5/7 in the human EPI (Fig. S5G). However, other families reported to be associated with naïve (SVA_A, LTR49-int) and conventionally cultured (LTR7C, MSTA-int and THE1D-int) PSC were minimally expressed or undetectable in the EPI. A significant proportion of transposable elements detected in naïve cultures exhibited higher expression at the 8-cell and compacted morula stages than EPI, consistent with previous findings (Theunissen et al., 2016).
Transposcriptome analysis based on family association is limited by considerable heterogeneity in expression of individual elements. This prompted us to determine stage-specific profiles based on individual loci, rather than family or class affiliation. Applying stringent selection criteria for specificity (Z-score>2) and excluding marginally expressed transcripts (normalised counts<10) revealed more than 40,000 stage-specific elements in human and marmoset (Fig. 5D, Table S6). Mouse samples featured many transcripts enriched in zygote and 4-cell stages as well as the EPI lineage, but surprisingly few specific to eight-cell embryos (279), compacted morulae (474) and early ICM (868). This contrasted with a more uniform distribution in primates, where at least 2000 elements could be associated with any given stage.
To attempt more precise developmental staging on transposable element expression, we extracted the top 1000 (or the maximum available for three time points in mouse) specific to embryonic stages, including EPI and PrE, and assessed repeat class and family association in human (Fig. 5E), marmoset (Fig. 5F) and mouse (Fig. 5G). The most-abundant classes in human were SINE:Alu, LINE:L1, LINE:L2 and SINE:MIR. The early ICM was characterised by pronounced expression of Alu families, including AluY, AluSx, AluSx1, AluJb and AluSg, and we found strong enrichment for HERVH-int, MIR2b and LTR7 in the EPI (Fig. 5E). Notably, SVAs did not feature in the top 10 transcript families of any preimplantation stage. Marmoset embryonic cells displayed similarly high abundance of primate-specific Alu families, in particular AluSc, AluSc8 and AluSx3 (Fig. 5F). The mouse expression profile differed profoundly from primates and revealed strong specificity for MTA_Mm-int in zygote, MERVL-int at the four-cell stage, and B2_Mm1a, B2_Mm1t and B2_Mm2 in the EPI (Fig. 5G). In summary, these results suggest that transposable elements can be used to discern early stages of embryonic development based on the repertoire of sequences expressed. We note considerable differences in transposable element composition between rodents and primates, and were able to resolve expression signatures for distinct preimplantation embryo lineages.
Conserved and primate-specific elements of the EPI and PrE transcription factor networks
We sought to derive transcription factor networks and extract a set of conserved regulators of primate pluripotency in the EPI lineage (Fig. 6A). More transcription factors were shared between human EPI and marmoset (139) than mouse (47). We constructed a core pluripotency network common to all species, based on the 282 transcription factors shared in the EPI and excluding those expressed in PrE (Fig. S6A). The conserved EPI network included the core pluripotency factors POU5F1, SOX2 and NANOG, as well as TFCP2L1, ZNF296, ZFP36L1 and SOX15. We also noted the presence of transcriptional repressor RBPJ and the ERK-signalling associated factors ETV4 and ETV5.
We next assembled a network based on EPI-specific regulatory genes expressed in human and marmoset, but not mouse (Fig. 6B). We identified a substantial fraction of transcriptional repressors (IKZF5, IFI16, BHLME40 and CBFA2T2), genes associated with DNA mismatch repair (PMS1 and MBD4), and several components of NFκβ (BCL3 and RELA) and WNT (CDX1, HBP1 and HMGN3) signalling pathways. Interestingly, the network also contained TFAP2C and GCM1, which in mouse are associated with trophoblast lineage specification (Kaiser et al., 2015; Sharma et al., 2016) and regulation of syncytium formation (Kashif et al., 2011; Lu et al., 2016), respectively. For quantitative visualisation of species specificity, we plotted relative expression of transcription factors and epigenetic modifiers (Fig. 6C). Transcription factors exclusively expressed in mouse EPI were Klf2, Tcf15 and Cited1. Human EPI exhibited the highest levels of SOX4 and HAND1, while NANOG expression was substantially elevated in marmoset.
We examined the dynamics of selected pluripotency factor expression in each species (Fig. 6D). Although POU5F1, SOX2 and NANOG transcript levels correlated in equivalent lineages, Nanog was upregulated earlier in mouse. TFAP2C and TFCP2L1 followed this pattern, whereas ESRRB was expressed substantially earlier in primate embryos and subsequently downregulated in the EPI. We also found differences between primate species. Human-specific EPI factors included CREB3L1, VENTX, HEY2 and INSR. Variations in insulin receptor (INSR) expression are potentially relevant to further refine human PSC culture conditions.
The conserved core transcription factor network for human, marmoset and mouse PrE contained many established lineage markers, including GATA6, SOX17, HNF4A and GATA4 (Fig. S6B). We identified pluripotency-associated factors TBX3 and KLF5, downstream targets of BMP signalling (ID2, ID3) and new potential regulators (WDR77, PDLIM1, PCBD1 and GTF2A2) within the common PrE circuitry. In mouse, PrE lineage specification occurs via sequential activation of Gata6>Sox17>Gata4>Sox7 (Artus et al., 2011). Consistent with this model, we found that Gata6 was expressed from the eight-cell stage, Sox17 and Gata4 were upregulated from early ICM formation and Sox7 expression commenced in mature PrE (Fig. 6E). Human and marmoset GATA6, SOX17 and GATA4 largely followed this pattern, suggesting a potentially similar regulatory cascade underlying PrE specification in primates. However, SOX7 remained low in marmoset throughout all developmental stages and absent in human.
To identify primate-specific regulators associated with PrE specification, we selected transcription factors expressed in human and marmoset PrE, and excluded those in mouse PrE (Fig. S6C,D). We noted pronounced expression of the DNA chaperone HMGB1, regulator of desmosomes and intermediate junctions JUP, and endothelial transcription factors, including ANKRD1, GATA2 and GATA3. Surprisingly, the mouse ICM and postimplantation EPI-associated gene OTX2 (Buecker et al., 2014; Acampora et al., 2016) was robustly expressed in the primate PrE (Fig. 6F).
In mouse, Otx2 is first expressed in the ICM, then the preimplantation EPI (Acampora et al., 2016) and is subsequently highly upregulated upon implantation (Boroviak and Nichols, 2017). We implemented a resource to catalogue and visualise embryonic gene expression in the species analysed (app.stemcells.cam.ac.uk/GRAPPA), and compared OTX2 patterns in each time series. We observed a consistent pattern for mouse in our dataset (Fig. 7A, Table S7). In human and marmoset, however, OTX2 is a maternal factor and specifically upregulated in PrE (Fig. 7A, Table S7), suggesting primate-specific adaptations of conserved transcriptional regulators for EPI and PrE segregation.
To determine whether OTX2 transcript expression in primate PrE was reflected at the protein level, we performed immunostaining. Marmoset embryos at this stage had completed EPI and PrE segregation, as evidenced by mutually exclusive detection of NANOG and GATA6 (Fig. 7B). OTX2 was expressed in a subset of cells overlying the NANOG-positive EPI inside the blastocyst cavity (Fig. 7C). In human blastocysts at embryonic day (E)7, we also observed mutually exclusive staining between NANOG and OTX2 (Fig. 7D). We found GATA2 was absent in EPI, present at intermediate levels in PrE and highly expressed in all trophectoderm cells (Fig. 7E). OTX2 colocalised with intermediate levels of GATA2 inside the blastocyst, corroborating PrE-specific expression.
Rodent Otx2 directly binds regulatory genomic sequences of Nanog (Acampora et al., 2016). We therefore investigated the relationship of NANOG and OTX2 transcriptional activity in each species at the single cell level. Nanog and Otx2 were co-expressed in all cells of the mouse EPI (Fig. S7A), whereas in human and marmoset OTX2 was absent in half of EPI cells (marmoset 20/32, human 20/54) and expressed at low levels in the remainder (Fig. S7B,C). Mouse Otx2 was consistently absent in PrE cells (41/44) (Fig. S7D). In contrast, OTX2 was expressed in the majority of primate PrE cells (marmoset 34/47, human 32/38) (Fig. S7E,F). In the human embryo, cells with the highest levels of OTX2 were devoid of NANOG.
This led us to investigate the dynamics of OTX2 and NANOG proteins at an earlier time point. We found that, in cavitating human blastocysts (<100 cells), NANOG and OTX2 were co-expressed at intermediate abundance (Fig. S7G). However, in cells with strong signal for either NANOG or OTX2, expression was mutually exclusive. Similar patterns were observed in fully cavitated embryos (>100 cells) (Fig. S7H). These results may indicate a role for OTX2 in the regulation of EPI versus PrE lineage commitment in the human embryo, and the potentially divergent function of an established rodent pluripotency regulator in early primate development.
This study assembles a compendium of single cell transcriptional data from preimplantation embryos of three mammalian species, and defines the regulatory events leading to rodent and primate EPI and PrE lineage specification. Features distinct to human and marmoset development are evident from the zygote stage. The primate maternal program is substantially enriched for ribosome biogenesis and components of the translational machinery. We identified a number of transcripts present in human and marmoset zygotes that are later confined to the EPI. Interestingly, OTX2, a homeobox transcription factor essential for mouse anterior forebrain identity (Perea-Gomez et al., 2001) and implicated in the progression of pluripotency (Acampora et al., 2013; Buecker et al., 2014; Yang et al., 2014; Kalkan et al., 2017), was present at high levels in both human and marmoset zygotes, and later expressed in PrE.
We also identified notable differences with regard to epigenetic modifiers. The maintenance DNA methyltransferase DNMT1 was highly upregulated in primates. In mouse, Dnmt3l is required for the establishment of maternal imprints (Bourc'his et al., 2001), but DNMT3L was completely absent in human and marmoset. Core members of PRC1 and PRC2 complexes, including BMI, EED, EZH1 and SUZ12, were scarcely detectable in the primate zygote, but were upregulated between the four- and eight-cell stages. In mouse, PRC1/2 are already established in the zygote. The presence of key PRC1/2 components at ZGA suggests a role for repressive complexes immediately following engagement of the transcriptional apparatus.
The marmoset early ICM embodies a distinct transcriptional state, in agreement with recent reports in human (Blakeley et al., 2015; Stirparo et al., 2018), Macaca fascicularis (Nakamura et al., 2016) and mouse (Mohammed et al., 2017). Primate early ICM cells expressed essential regulators of early mouse embryonic development, including POU5F1, GATA6, STAT3 and MYBL2. Transcripts exclusive to primate ICM were NUCB1, encoding a calcium-binding protein of the Golgi, STEAP1, a metalloreductase, and DLC1, a GTPase-activating protein involved in cytoskeletal reorganisation and activator of phospholipase PLCD1 (which also peaks during ICM formation). Cluster analysis revealed enrichment for lipid metabolism in human and marmoset early ICM, suggesting distinct metabolic requirements.
Progression from the early ICM leads to the establishment of naïve pluripotency in the EPI. Most current knowledge of the emergence and maintenance of pluripotent cells is derived from studies in mouse. We (Boroviak et al., 2015; Stirparo et al., 2018) and others (Blakeley et al., 2015; Nakamura et al., 2016) demonstrated that a substantial fraction of mouse pluripotency-associated factors are absent from human and non-human primate ICM, including KLF2, NR0B1, ESRRB, FBXO15 and JAM2. Cross-species analyses defined primate-specific transcription and chromatin remodelling factor circuitry in the EPI. We identified TFAP2C and GCM1, regarded as TE-associated factors in mouse, in the naïve primate pluripotency network with KLF17, ARGFX, HESX1, ELF3 and HMGB3 and several zinc-finger proteins, including ZNF675, ZNF257 and ZNF146. It is tempting to speculate that a subset of these regulators may endow primate EPI cells with the potential for amnion specification directly after implantation (Boroviak and Nichols, 2017).
Comparative analyses of rodent and primate EPI defines conserved core pluripotency factors, in addition to POU5F1, SOX2 and NANOG. These include TFCP2L1 (Martello et al., 2013; Ye et al., 2013), ZSCAN10, which has been shown to promote genomic stability in mouse embryonic stem cells (Skamagki et al., 2017), ZNF296, a component of heterochromatin (Matsuura et al., 2017) reported to enhance reprogramming efficiency (Fischedick et al., 2012) and to interact with KLF4 (Fujii et al., 2013), ZFP36L1, a zinc-finger RNA-binding protein attenuating protein synthesis (Stoecklin et al., 2002), and MYBL2, which regulates cell cycle progression and is essential for mouse ICM formation (Tanaka et al., 1999). The conserved pluripotency network further contained repressive chromatin remodelling factors HDAC2, HDAC3 and JARID2, as well as ETS-related transcription factors (ETV4/5), which are involved in cell proliferation and induction of differentiation-associated genes in mouse embryonic stem cells (Akagi et al., 2015). Interestingly, we also found RBPJ, a transcriptional repressor regulated by Notch signalling, to be an integral part of the EPI program in all three species, despite the absence of Delta/Notch receptors. Mouse Rbpj is not required for self-renewal in embryonic stem cell lines, but is implicated in early differentiation and neural lineage entry (Lowell et al., 2006; Leeb et al., 2014).
Repetitive DNA sequences have been introduced into mammalian genomes over evolutionary time, and constitute approximately half of the human genome. Transposable elements are subject to epigenetic control and expression during early embryogenesis, and associated transcription may provide a signature to define developmental states. Correspondence in transposcriptome has been proposed as a metric for comparison of cultured human PSC lines to in vivo counterparts (Theunissen et al., 2016; Collier et al., 2017). We derived transposable element-based signatures for six embryonic stages, including EPI and PrE, and noted considerable differences in the transcript repertoire between species. Transposable element families reported in human PSCs were largely expressed in the EPI. Despite that general finding, SVA_A and LTR49-int were barely detectable in the EPI, and instead were expressed at earlier stages. Similarities in transposcriptome profiles of PSC cultures and morula cells may be a consequence of hypomethylation in vitro (Theunissen et al., 2016; Pastor et al., 2016).
Acquisition of PrE identity in primates largely recapitulated the sequential activation of lineage specifiers in mouse. GATA6 was robustly expressed in morulae and early ICM, and subsequently confined to PrE in the late ICM, whereas GATA4 and SOX17 were specifically upregulated in PrE. We determined SOX7 to be absent in primates. Notably, mouse Sox7 is dispensable for PrE formation from mouse embryonic stem cells (Kinoshita et al., 2015), in contrast to the potent inductive function of GATA6 (Fujikura et al., 2002), SOX17 (McDonald et al., 2014) and GATA4 (Fujikura et al., 2002).
We identified an array of new core PrE-associated factors present in human, marmoset and mouse. These included KLF5, KLF6, TBX3, EGR1 and BMP signalling components ID2/3. Cluster analysis revealed enrichment for ERK signalling in all three species. However, we identified the WNT pathway as a primate-specific feature in the late ICM. Primate PrE consistently expressed RSPO3, a potent WNT signalling enhancer (de Lau et al., 2014). Human EPI featured WNT3 (marmoset WNT5B), in contrast to complete absence of WNT ligand in mouse. We have previously shown that WNT inhibition interferes with NANOG and GATA6 segregation in the marmoset embryo (Boroviak et al., 2015), supporting a functional requirement for WNT in primate PrE specification.
The primate-specific PrE transcription factor network contained ANKRD1, PITX2, MSX2, CEBPD, HDGF and mouse trophoblast markers GATA2 and GATA3, which were robustly expressed in PrE, although orders of magnitude lower than in the TE lineage. A previous report has proposed DPPA4 as a new human PrE marker (Petropoulos et al., 2016). However, our re-analysis of human datasets (Stirparo et al., 2018) with stage-matched marmoset and mouse samples showed that DPPA4 is consistently upregulated in the EPI. Mouse-specific PrE factors were Tfec, Sox7, Foxq1, Cited1 and Hhex. The homeobox gene Hhex is first expressed in PrE and during implantation confined to the distal tip of visceral endoderm (Thomas et al., 1998), which becomes the anterior visceral endoderm. Mouse Hhex-expressing PrE cells have a tall columnar epithelial morphology, overlying the EPI in a distal position (Rivera-Pérez et al., 2003). The absence of HHEX in human and marmoset PrE suggests potentially divergent mechanisms for the establishment of asymmetry in primates. Strikingly, we discovered OTX2 as a PrE-associated gene in primates. In mouse, Otx2 is not present in PrE but is later required for visceral endoderm movement and for the restriction of posterior signals in the EPI (Perea-Gomez et al., 2001). We show that, in primates, OTX2 protein localises in a subset of PrE cells and becomes mutually exclusive with NANOG at the late blastocyst stage. Further studies are required to determine the role of OTX2 in primate PrE formation.
Collectively, we present a framework for comparative molecular evaluation of human embryology to a tractable non-human primate model and the established mouse paradigm. Our cross-species analysis resolves genome-wide expression signatures of protein-coding genes and transposable elements for major preimplantation embryo stages as a benchmark for in vitro-cultured cells. This work provides a resource for high-confidence, primate-specific lineage factors for future functional interrogation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Marmoset colony maintenance and embryo collection
Marmoset embryos were obtained from the Central Institute for Experimental Animals, Kanagawa, Japan (CIEA). Experiments using marmosets at the CIEA were approved by the animal research committee (CIEA: 11028) and performed in compliance with guidelines set forth by the Science Council of Japan. Marmosets were maintained as previously described (Hanazawa et al., 2012). Embryos were collected according to established methods using recently developed devices (Takahashi et al., 2014; Thomson et al., 1994). Staging of female marmoset reproductive cycles and embryo collection have been described previously (Hanazawa et al., 2012).
Single-cell RNA-seq datasets
We compiled three stage-matched, single-cell preimplantation embryo datasets based on published and newly generated samples for human, marmoset and mouse. All samples were processed with the Smart-seq library construction method for full-length coverage of individual transcripts (Picelli et al., 2013). This resulted in a compendium of seven embryonic lineages from six developmental stages, spanning zygote, four-cell, eight-cell, compacted morula, and early and late ICM.
Human embryo transcriptomes were compiled from three single cell profiling studies (Yan et al., 2013; Blakeley et al., 2015; Petropoulos et al., 2016). These data were processed and annotated based on the analysis reported in Stirparo et al. (2018).
Marmoset samples were newly generated for this study. Embryos were staged according to cell number and embryonic day. Where appropriate, zona pellucidae were removed using acid Tyrode's solution (Sigma) and embryos were subjected to immunosurgery as previously described (Solter and Knowles, 1975; Nichols et al., 1998) using a custom rabbit polyclonal anti-marmoset antibody (Boroviak et al., 2015). Following the complement reaction, residual trophectoderm was thoroughly removed by repetitive manual pipetting. For dissociation of marmoset ICM into single cells, recovered ICM were exposed to a 1:1 mixture of 0.025% trypsin plus EDTA (Invitrogen) and 0.025% trypsin (Invitrogen) plus 1% chick serum (Sigma) for 5-10 min. Cells were dissociated into singletons by repetitive pipetting with micro-capillaries of gradually reduced inner diameter. Individual ICM cells were transferred to single cell lysis buffer and snap frozen on dry ice. Smart-seq2 libraries were prepared as described previously (Picelli et al., 2014) and sequenced on the Illumina platform in 125 bp paired-end format. These data are available via ArrayExpress accession number E-MTAB-7078.
Mouse embryo data were compiled from an earlier study (Deng et al., 2014) and augmented by samples produced in our laboratories (Mohammed et al., 2017). Single-cell transcriptome profiling of mouse preimplantation embryos has been reported (Deng et al., 2014); however, that study did not yield samples at the late ICM stage that represent distinct EPI and PrE lineages (Blakeley et al., 2015). We therefore produced stage-matched single-cell samples for early and late blastocyst ICM and sequenced RNA-seq libraries prepared with the Smart-seq2 protocol. These data have been previously described (Mohammed et al., 2017).
RNA-seq data processing
Sequencing data from single-cell human [accession numbers SRP011546 (Yan et al., 2013), SRP055810 (Blakeley et al., 2015), ERP012552 (Petropoulos et al., 2016)] and mouse [SRP110669 (Mohammed et al., 2017) and SRP020490 (Deng et al., 2014)] embryo profiling studies were obtained from the European Nucleotide Archive (Silvester et al., 2018). Reads from each species dataset were aligned to human genome build GRCh38/hg38, common marmoset C_jacchus3.2.1, and mouse assembly GRCm38/mm10 with STAR 2.5.2b (Dobin et al., 2013) using the two-pass method for novel splice detection (Engström et al., 2013). Read alignment was guided by gene annotation from Ensembl release 87 and splice junction donor/acceptor overlap settings were tailored to the read length of each dataset. Alignments to gene loci were quantified with htseq-count (Anders et al., 2015) based on annotation from Ensembl 87 (Yates et al., 2016). Sequencing libraries with fewer than 500 K mapped reads were excluded from subsequent analyses. Read distribution bias across gene bodies was computed as the ratio between the total reads spanning the 50th to the 100th percentile of gene length, and those between the first and 49th. Samples with ratio >2 were not considered further.
Principal component and cluster analyses were performed based on log2 FPKM values computed with the Bioconductor packages DESeq2 (Love et al., 2014), Sincell (Juliá et al., 2015) or FactoMineR (Lê et al., 2008) in conjunction with custom scripts. If not otherwise indicated, default parameters were used. Differential expression analysis was performed with scde (Kharchenko et al., 2014), which fits individual error models for the assessment of differential expression between sample groups. For global analyses, genes that registered zero counts in all single-cell samples in a given comparison were omitted. Euclidean distance and average agglomeration methods were used for cluster analyses. Volcano plots were computed with log2 fold change and −log10 P-values from DESeq2 differential analysis output. Mutual information scores were computed with the infotheo R package. Orthology mapping was performed according to gene annotation in Ensembl release 87 with human as the reference species. Multiple orthologies were deconvoluted based on the percentage of gene sequence similarity, as defined in Ensembl. Expression data are available in supplementary Tables S2 and S4 and through a web application (genome-wide rodent and primate preimplantation atlas) to visualise expression levels of individual genes in embryonic lineages (app.stemcells.cam.ac.uk/GRAPPA).
Selection of high-variability genes
Genes exhibiting the greatest expression variability (and thus contributing substantial discriminatory power) were identified by fitting a non-linear regression curve between average log2 FPKM and the square of coefficient of variation. Thresholds were applied along the x-axis (average log2 FPKM) and y-axis (log CV2) to identify the most variable genes.
Evaluation of refined embryonic cell populations
To assess the accuracy of selected EPI, PrE and early ICM cells, we used the weighted gene co-expression network analysis unsupervised clustering method (WGCNA; Langfelder and Horvath, 2008) to identify specific modules of co-expressed genes in each developmental lineage. A soft power threshold of 10 was set to govern the correlation metric and a tree-pruning approach (Langfelder et al., 2008) was implemented to merge similar modules (threshold 0.35). The minimum module size was set to 50 genes; from the modules computed, the top 50 genes with greatest intramodular connectivity were selected for subsequent co-expression network analysis.
Temporal trajectories were computed with the monocle R package (Trapnell et al., 2014), using the DDRtree reduction and vstExprs normalisation options. As different numbers of cells were profiled from each species and developmental stages in the datasets considered, uniform cell numbers were sampled from each group and the average was reported from 100 sampling iterations.
Network analysis of biological processes
Statistical enrichment of Gene Ontology (GO) terms was computed with the GOstats Bioconductor package, DAVID 6.8 (Huang et al., 2009) and EnrichR web tools (Kuleshov et al., 2016). Cytoscape (Shannon et al., 2003; Smoot et al., 2011) and the associated enrichment map plug-in were used for network construction and visualisation. For network diagrams, node size is scaled by the number of genes contributing to over-representation of biological processes; edges are plotted in widths proportional to the overlap between gene sets.
Derivation of stage-specific expression modules
The R package kohonen was used to construct self-organising maps (SOM) across embryonic stages for human, marmoset and mouse. Variation in transcriptional activity was identified using a matrix of 30×30 with hexagonal topology. Stage-specific GO analyses were performed with GOstats package considering genes with Z-score>1.5, while genes with Z-score<1.5 in all stages were used for the background set. Annotation related to transcription factors, co-factors and chromatin remodelling factors was obtained from AnimalTFDB 2.0 (Zhang et al., 2015). Marmoset late lineage markers were selected as genes expressed in EPI or PrE cells with a transcriptional contribution more than 75% across all selected pre-implantation stages and minimum level of 10 FPKM. Early markers were identified as genes present at later stages (from eight-cell morulae to either EPI or PrE lineages) with a transcriptional contribution of more than 75% across all selected pre-implantation stages. A fold-change induction of at least four between lineages and minimum level of 10 FPKM in at least in one of the following stages was required: eight-cell, compacted morula, early ICM, EPI or PrE.
Identification of EPI- and PrE-associated transcription factors
A two-step process was used to determine sets of transcription factors, co-factors and chromatin remodellers enriched in embryonic lineages of the species analysed. Genes expressed at greater than 5 FPKM in the subject lineage (e.g. EPI) and not significantly downregulated in the other (e.g. PrE) were selected in human, marmoset and mouse, and averaged for all cells annotated in each cell type. Genes in common with all species or, alternatively, specific to primate, were compared between EPI and PrE modules. Ternary plots were produced with the R package ggtern using the relative percentage of average expression for all cells in EPI and PrE lineages. Protein-protein interactions between factors expressed in a primate-specific context or common to all species were computed based on entries curated in the STRING database (Szklarczyk et al., 2017).
Transposable element analysis
RepeatMasker annotations for human, marmoset and mouse genomes were obtained from the UCSC Table Browser (Karolchik et al., 2004). To calculate expression levels for transposable elements, adapter-trimmed RNA-seq reads were aligned to the respective reference genome with bowtie (Langmead and Salzberg, 2012) using parameters ‘-m1 –v2 --best --strata’ and selecting reads with unique alignment to individual elements, allowing two mismatches. Read counts for repeat regions and Ensembl transcripts were obtained by featureCounts (Liao et al., 2014), normalised by the total number of reads that mapped to Ensembl protein-coding transcripts, and subsequently normalised by repeat length. Differential expression between stages was evaluated with DESeq2.
Confocal imaging and analysis
Confocal images were acquired using a Leica TCS SP5 microscope. Optical section thickness ranged from 1-3 µm. Images were processed using Leica software, Imaris, Volocity and ImageJ (Fiji). Automated image analysis was performed in Volocity. Parameters for object identification were: guide size, 500 µm3; separate objects, 500 µm3; and objects larger than 500 µm3 were excluded. Thresholds for background fluorescence intensity (Gata6:45, Nanog:25, Cdx2:35, DAPI:20) were empirically determined to recapitulate manual cell counts in DMSO control embryos (Fig. S7A-D). For two IWP2-treated embryos, the Nanog threshold was increased to 50 owing to very bright signal to ensure accurate quantification of cell nuclei.
Conceptualization: T.B., G.G.S., A.S., J.N., P.B.; Methodology: T.B., G.G.S., S.D., I.H.-H, H.M., W.R., E.S., P.B.; Software: G.G.S., S.D.; Validation: T.B.; Formal analysis: G.G.S., S.D., P.B.; Investigation: T.B., G.G.S., P.B.; Resources: T.B., I.H.-H., H.M., W.R., E.S., P.B.; Data curation: P.B.; Writing - original draft: T.B., G.G.S., P.B.; Writing - review & editing: T.B., G.G.S., A.S., J.N., P.B.; Visualization: T.B., G.G.S., S.D.; Supervision: W.R., A.S., E.S., J.N., P.B.; Project administration: A.S., J.N., P.B.; Funding acquisition: A.S., J.N., P.B.
This work was supported by grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) UK (BB/M004023/1 (RG74277)), by the Medical Research Council (MRC) UK (G1001028), and by funding to the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute from the MRC and Wellcome Trust (097922/Z/11/Z, 203151/Z/16/Z). T.B. is a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow. A.S. is an MRC Professor. Deposited in PMC for immediate release.
Single-cell RNA-seq data from marmoset embryos are available in the ArrayExpress repository under accession number E-MTAB-7078.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.