Atlas…t, patterns from every cell

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Science  13 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6360, pp. 172-173
DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8493

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In the decades since the first images (1, 2) of patterned gene expression in embryos revealed the correspondence between the emerging structures of developing embryos and the locations of proteins and the RNAs that encode them, it has been an aspirational dream of developmental biologists to create an “atlas” that records the pattern of expression for every gene throughout the transition from egg to adult. Such data could, it is hoped, reveal how the plans for complex multicellular plants and animals are encoded in DNA and how these instructions are implemented by the molecular machinery of the cell. On page 194 of this issue, Karaiskos et al. (3) apply recently developed methods for sequencing RNA from individual cells to embryos of the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster and come tantalizingly close to achieving this dream.