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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 Dec 16, 2013

 

The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons.
The UW team discovered that some codons, which they called duons,
can have two meanings, one related to protein sequence, and one related to gene control.







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Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

Scientists have discovered a second code hiding within DNA. This second code contains information that changes how scientists read the instructions contained in DNA and interpret mutations to make sense of health and disease.

Discovery casts new light on how changes to DNA impact health and disease

A research team led by Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, made the discovery. The findings are reported in the Dec. 13 issue of Science. The work is part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, also known as ENCODE. The National Human Genome Research Institute funded the multi-year, international effort. ENCODE aims to discover where and how the directions for biological functions are stored in the human genome.


Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins.

UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages.

One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.


"For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made," said Stamatoyannopoulos. "Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. These new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways."


The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons. The UW team discovered that some codons, which they called duons, can have two meanings, one related to protein sequence, and one related to gene control.

These two meanings seem to have evolved in concert with each other. The gene control instructions appear to help stabilize certain beneficial features of proteins and how they are made.


The discovery of duons has major implications for how scientists and physicians interpret a patient's genome and will open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

"The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously," said Stamatoyannopoulos.

Abstract
Genomes contain both a genetic code specifying amino acids and a regulatory code specifying transcription factor (TF) recognition sequences. We used genomic deoxyribonuclease I footprinting to map nucleotide resolution TF occupancy across the human exome in 81 diverse cell types. We found that ~15% of human codons are dual-use codons (“duons”) that simultaneously specify both amino acids and TF recognition sites. Duons are highly conserved and have shaped protein evolution, and TF-imposed constraint appears to be a major driver of codon usage bias. Conversely, the regulatory code has been selectively depleted of TFs that recognize stop codons. More than 17% of single-nucleotide variants within duons directly alter TF binding. Pervasive dual encoding of amino acid and regulatory information appears to be a fundamental feature of genome evolution.

Authors
Andrew B. Stergachis1, Eric Haugen1, Anthony Shafer1, Wenqing Fu1, Benjamin Vernot1, Alex Reynolds1, Anthony Raubitschek2,3, Steven Ziegler3, Emily M. LeProust4,*, Joshua M. Akey1, John A. Stamatoyannopoulos1,5,†
+ Author Affiliations

1Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
2Department of Immunology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.
3Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.
4Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA 95051, USA.
5Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health U54HG004592, U54HG007010, and UO1E51156 and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases FDK095678A funded the research.