Ozbudak, E.M., Tassy, O., and Pourquié, O. (2010) Spatiotemporal compartmentalization of key physiological processes during muscle precursor differentiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 107(9):4224-4229.
The development of multicellular organisms is controlled by transcriptional networks. Understanding the role of these networks requires a full understanding of transcriptome regulation during embryogenesis. Several microarray studies have characterized the temporal evolution of the transcriptome during development in different organisms [Wang QT, et al. (2004) Dev Cell 6:133-144; Furlong EE, Andersen EC, Null B, White KP, Scott MP (2001) Science 293:1629-1633; Mitiku N, Baker JC (2007) Dev Cell 13:897-907]. In all cases, however, experiments were performed on whole embryos, thus averaging gene expression among many different tissues. Here, we took advantage of the local synchrony of the differentiation process in the paraxial mesoderm. This approach provides a unique opportunity to study the systems-level properties of muscle differentiation. Using high-resolution, spatiotemporal profiling of the early stages of muscle development in the zebrafish embryo, we identified a major reorganization of the transcriptome taking place in the presomitic mesoderm. We further show that the differentiation process is associated with a striking modular compartmentalization of the transcription of essential components of cellular physiological programs. Particularly, we identify a tight segregation of cell cycle/DNA metabolic processes and translation/oxidative metabolism at the tissue level, highly reminiscent of the yeast metabolic cycle. These results should expand more investigations into the developmental control of metabolism.