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Protein supports embryo cell survival under metabolic stress

Journal front-cover study identifies a novel protein in mice that may support embryo cell survival during its very first days of existence.

Protein on the cell membranes of mouse embryonic stem cells
Protein on the cell membranes of mouse embryonic stem cells, as seen in the journal front cover.

Scientists have identified a novel protein in mice that may support embryo cell survival in the very first days of its existence, under conditions of metabolic stress.

The work is published in the “Journal of Cell Science” and has been selected for a front cover.

Embryo vulnerability in the first days

During the very first days of its existence, the embryo of a mammal lives as a free living entity in the uterus, without direct nutritional support from the mother. In this period the embryo is particularly vulnerable and losses can be high.

In this study led by Dr Tom Burdon of The Roslin Institute, scientists have looked at mouse embryo cells to study this early phase of development and have identified this novel embryonic protein, which is located at the cell membrane where it can control key cellular processes.

The authors speculate that the protein provides support during a vulnerable early phase of life. After this phase, the embryo implants in the uterus and can then be nourished directly by the mother. 

This work may shed light on how embryo cells sustain themselves during the very first days of existence of the embryo, when it is particularly vulnerable. We were delighted that our work was highlighted on the front cover of the Journal of Cell Science.

Dr Tom Burdon, The Roslin Institute

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Original publication

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