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Growing hand with HoxD combinatorial code. The image below is an overlay of the large-scale hand sculpture with Hox genes combinatorial code distribution along a diffusion map, illustrating genetic diversity in the growing limb. Each dot being one cell, the colors represent the single-cell combinatorial Hoxd code that match with different degree of differentiation, a recent concept also described as pseudo-temporal ordering of single-cells. The graphic highlights the switch between cellular temporal states involved in a regulatory network. The cells with only one gene are in a more premature state while the one expressing a higher set of these genes being at the end of their maturation. Credit: Sculpture and “del desierto” from Chilean sculptor Mario Irrarazabal in Atacama Desert. Graphical representation of pseudotime by P. Fabre and Q. Lo Giudice, University of Geneva.

The gene code of growing limbs

At the point when a fetus develops, everything must be planned to perfection: cell division and separation, gene expression, cell-to-cell signaling, and morphogenesis must...