Extensive phylogenies of human development reveal variable embryonic patterns
Philip S Robinson,
Thomas J Mitchell,
Posted 26 Nov 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.25.397828
Posted 26 Nov 2020
Starting from the zygote, all cells in the developing and adult human body continuously acquire mutations. A mutation shared between two different cells implies a shared progenitor cell and can thus be used as a naturally occurring marker for lineage tracing. Here, we reconstruct extensive phylogenies of normal tissues from three adult individuals using whole-genome sequencing of 511 laser capture microdissected samples from multiple organs. Early embryonic progenitor cells inferred from the phylogenies often contribute in different proportions to the adult body and the extent of this asymmetry is variable between individuals, with ratios between the first two reconstructed cells ranging from 56:44 to 92:8. Asymmetries also pervade subsequent cell generations and can differ between tissues in the same individual. The phylogenies also resolve the spatial embryonic origins and patterning of tissues, revealing a spatial effect in the development of the human brain. Supplemented by data on eleven men, we timed the split between soma and germline, with the earliest observed segregation occurring at the first cell divisions. This research demonstrates that, despite reaching the same ultimate tissue patterns, early bottlenecks and lineage commitments lead to substantial variation in embryonic patterns both within and between individuals.
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