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Welcome to The Visible Embryo, a comprehensive educational resource on human development from conception to birth.

The Visible Embryo provides visual references for changes in fetal development throughout pregnancy and can be navigated via fetal development or maternal changes.

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development awarded Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grants to develop The Visible Embryo. Initally designed to evaluate the internet as a teaching tool for first year medical students, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than one million visitors each month.

Today, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than 1 million visitors each month. The field of early embryology has grown to include the identification of the stem cell as not only critical to organogenesis in the embryo, but equally critical to organ function and repair in the adult human. The identification and understanding of genetic malfunction, inflammatory responses, and the progression in chronic disease, begins with a grounding in primary cellular and systemic functions manifested in the study of the early embryo.

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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Oct 11, 2013


The green fluorescent protein (GFP) is bound to a TALE protein, which is bound to a DNA sequence.

Credit: © Yusuke Miyanari

WHO Child Growth Charts




Gene movements observed in vivo

Certain parts of DNA are highly mobile and their dynamic motion participates in controlling gene expression. Researchers have just developed a method of observing the organisation and movements of these genes in time and space.

The research team working under Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla, an Inserm research director at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (Inserm/CNRS/University of Strasbourg), have succeeded in marking and then monitoring parent genes during cell division. This new method will be a great step forwards to understanding the resulting processes that control gene regulation.

These results were published on October 6, 2013 on the website of the Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

In the cell nucleus, DNA is highly dynamic and changes its spatial configuration in the same way as it does during cell division.

The spatial configuration of DNA determines whether the genes are active or inactive, in other words whether they are capable of expression.

In this study, the researchers attempted to better understand the dynamics of the position of the genome in the nucleus in order to obtain a better overall understanding of the genome and gene functions.

TALE proteins were first identified in bacteria. They bind with “artificial” DNA, targeted to a specific DNA sequence. In use since 2009, the work carried out by Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla’s team consisted in using TALE technology to mark a genome sequence and visualize its movement in vivo.

Her researchers succeeding in merging a green fluorescent protein (mClover) with a TALE protein. This allowed for specific DNA sequences inside the nucleus of living cells to be observed. This method, called TGV (TALE-mediated Genome Visualization), gave the unexpected results of seeing targeted DNA in real-time.

The spatiotemporal organization of genomes in the nucleus is an emerging key player to regulate genome function. Live imaging of nuclear organization dynamics would be a breakthrough toward uncovering the functional relevance and mechanisms regulating genome architecture. Here, we used transcription activator–like effector (TALE) technology to visualize endogenous repetitive genomic sequences. We established TALE-mediated genome visualization (TGV) to label genomic sequences and follow nuclear positioning and chromatin dynamics in cultured mouse cells and in the living organism. TGV is highly specific, thus allowing differential labeling of parental chromosomes by distinguishing between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Our findings provide a framework to address the function of genome architecture through visualization of nuclear dynamics in vivo.

Original press releas: http://presse-inserm.fr/en/francais-les-mouvements-des-genes-observes-in-vivo/9694/