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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 ' million visitors each month.

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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal 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 HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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June 12, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts

studying the relationships between gene regulation and cell behavior,
science develops an understanding of stem cell engineering.

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Exploring the Epigenome’s Regulatory Function

The sequencing of the human genome has provided a wealth of genetic information, yet the goal of understanding the function of every gene remains unfinished

New research from the University of Illinois published in Cell suggests determining the purpose of genes through a new method they call “comparative epigenomics.”

“Comparative epigenomics is to use interspecies comparison of DNA and histone modifications—as an approach for annotation of the regulatory genome,” says Sheng Zhong, of the Institute for Genomic Biology and Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois.

While the genome of an organism contains all its genes, it is the epigenome that decides which are expressed, or “turned on.”

Though genomic science has long focused on comparative genomics - comparing the genomes of similar species and finding the commonalities to determine how common traits are regulated - comparative epigenetics provides a more in-depth look at regulatory functions.

The researchers, led by Zhong, in collaboration with Ting Wang at Washington University, Harris Lewin, and Franklin West at University of Georgia, focused their work on three species: humans, mice, and pigs. By analyzing 9 epigenomic marks in pluripotent stem cells, they were able to create an epigenomic map for each which they could then compare.

The team concluded that, with proper analysis procedures, traces of interspecies epigenomic conservation could be identified. They then demonstrated that the conserved epigenetic markers can be effectively used to annotate the genome, clarifying the genome’s regulatory function.

Understanding the genome is one of the most pressing problems for science, and this study sheds light on a promising alternative method.

“Comparative epigenomics enables us to find more clues from evolution about the functions of our genomes,” adds Shu Xiao, the first author of the paper.

“Comparative Epigenomic Annotation of Regulatory DNA,” Shu Xiao, Dan Xie, Xiaoyi Cao, Pengfei Yu, Xiaoyun Xing, Chieh-Chun Chen, Meagan Musselman, Mingchao Xie, Franklin D. West, Harris A. Lewin, Ting Wang, Sheng Zhong. Cell doi:10.1016/j.cell.2012.04.029 (volume 149 issue 6 pp.1381 - 1392)

Original article: http://www.igb.illinois.edu/news/lessons-epigenome-evolution-exploring-epigenome’s-regulatory-function