Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Global expression profiling reveals genetic programs underlying the developmental divergence between mouse and human embryogenesis

Lu Xue12, Jin-Yang Cai1, Jian Ma1, Zan Huang1, Ming-Xiong Guo1, Lie-Zhen Fu3, Yun-Bo Shi3* and Wen-Xin Li1*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, P.R China

2 Institute for Medical Biology, College of Life Sciences, South-Central University for Nationalities, Wuhan 430074, P.R China

3 Section on Molecular Morphogenesis, Program in Cellular Regulation and Metabolism, NICHD, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:568  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-568

Published: 20 August 2013



Mouse has served as an excellent model for studying human development and diseases due to its similarity to human. Advances in transgenic and knockout studies in mouse have dramatically strengthened the use of this model and significantly improved our understanding of gene function during development in the past few decades. More recently, global gene expression analyses have revealed novel features in early embryogenesis up to gastrulation stages and have indeed provided molecular evidence supporting the conservation in early development in human and mouse. On the other hand, little information is known about the gene regulatory networks governing the subsequent organogenesis. Importantly, mouse and human development diverges during organogenesis. For instance, the mouse embryo is born around the end of organogenesis while in human the subsequent fetal period of ongoing growth and maturation of most organs spans more than 2/3 of human embryogenesis. While two recent studies reported the gene expression profiles during human organogenesis, no global gene expression analysis had been done for mouse organogenesis.


Here we report a detailed analysis of the global gene expression profiles from egg to the end of organogenesis in mouse. Our studies have revealed distinct temporal regulation patterns for genes belonging to different functional (Gene Ontology or GO) categories that support their roles during organogenesis. More importantly, comparative analyses identify both conserved and divergent gene regulation programs in mouse and human organogenesis, with the latter likely responsible for the developmental divergence between the two species, and further suggest a novel developmental strategy during vertebrate evolution.


We have reported here the first genome-wide gene expression analysis of the entire mouse embryogenesis and compared the transcriptome atlas during mouse and human embryogenesis. Given our earlier observation that genes function in a given process tends to be developmentally co-regulated during organogenesis, our microarray data here should help to identify genes associated with mouse development and/or infer the developmental functions of unknown genes. In addition, our study might be useful for invesgtigating the molecular basis of vertebrate evolution.

Microarray; Mouse embryogenesis; Human embryogenesis; Organogenesis; Evolution; Protein interaction network