Embryos kickstart a vibrant genetic program to thrive, but if the wrong genes are active the cells can self-destruct. A*STAR scientists have discovered one of the genes that needs to be tightly locked down for an embryo to develop: a finding that could improve IVF success rates.
Human egg and sperm cells have their genes trained on a single purpose – to fertilize. Once their mission is complete, the developing embryo begins the complicated genetic program that turns a single cell into a healthy fetus.
This program is possible thanks in part to epigenetic changes to the DNA, such as the removal of methyl group 'locks' by enzymes, which allows many more genes to be read.