Single-cell reconstruction of developmental trajectories during zebrafish embryogenesis

Science 

We generated single-cell transcriptomes from 38,731 cells during early zebrafish embryogenesis at high temporal resolution, spanning 12 stages from the onset of zygotic transcription through early somitogenesis. We took two complementary approaches to identify the transcriptional trajectories in the data. First, we developed a simulated diffusion-based computational approach, URD, which identified the trajectories describing the specification of 25 cell types in the form of a branching tree. Second, we identified modules of coexpressed genes and connected them across developmental time. Combining the reconstructed developmental trajectories with differential gene expression analysis uncovered gene expression cascades leading to each cell type, including previously unidentified markers and candidate regulators.