Int. J. Dev. Biol. 63: 131 - 142 (2019)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.180418gd
© UPV/EHU Press

Computational models for the dynamics of early mouse embryogenesis

Alen Tosenberger1, Didier Gonze1, Claire Chazaud2,3,4 and Geneviève Dupont*,1

1Unité de Chronobiologie Théorique, Faculté des Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium, 2Clermont Université, Université d'Auvergne, Laboratoire GReD, Clermont-Ferrand, France, 3Inserm, UMR1103, Clermont-Ferrand, France and 4CNRS, UMR6293, Clermont-Ferrand, France

ABSTRACT Early embryonic development, from the zygote to the blastocyst, is a paradigm of a dynamic, self-organised process. It involves gene expression, mechanical interactions between cells, cell division and inter- and intracellular signalling. Imaging and transcriptomic data have significantly improved our understanding of early embryogenesis in mammals. However, they also reveal a great level of complexity. How the genetic, mechanical, and regulatory processes interact to ensure reproducible development is thus much investigated by computational modelling, which allows a dissection of the mechanisms controlling cell fate decisions. In this review, we discuss the main types of modelling approaches that have been used to investigate the dynamics of preimplantation mammalian development. We also discuss the insights provided by modelling into our understanding of the specification processes leading to the three types of cells in the embryo 4.5 days after fertilization: the trophectoderm, the epiblast and the primitive endoderm.

Keywords:

development, gene regulatory network, mathematical model, cell specification, signalling

*Corresponding author e-mail: gdupont@ulb.ac.be