I read the following line in the research paper - The dynamics and regulators of cell fate decisions are revealed by pseudotemporal ordering of single cells:

During differentiation, for example, each cell makes independent fate decisions by integrating a wide array of signals from other cells and executing a complex choreography of gene-regulatory changes. Thus individual cells can execute the same sequence of transcriptional changes over highly varying time scales.

Can anyone explain in simple terms what is meant by "same sequence of transcriptional changes"?

How can it be the same sequence if during differentiation, different types of cells are formed?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You are not mentioning, neither the paragraph, any specific time during development. The paragraph can be simply referring to stages in development when you already have groups of cells committing to the same transcriptional program (e.g. same part of an organ), as opposed to early stages where one single cell has to start a group of similar cells, $\endgroup$
    – JRodrigoF
    Sep 6, 2021 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


Not all cells will perform the same sequence of transcriptional changes. The paragraph you quote simply states that differentiation isn't a step change with all cells differentiating at the exact same moment. Rather, it's a more gradual change with cells each working on their own time scale.

  • $\begingroup$ That is right, embryogenesis is a good example in this case. Changes occur in the fetus when cells receive a mix of signal internal cellular factors as well as extracellular factors. However, the differentiation does not happen at the same time because the signals first. When some cells start to differentiate, they induce differentiation to the neighboring cells. Thus, a gradual change of differentiation. $\endgroup$
    – user324810
    Sep 6, 2021 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Devon Ryan for your time and expertise. Can you kindly explain what is meant by "sequence of transcriptional changes"? $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2021 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ A given order (sequence) of changes in gene expression. $\endgroup$
    – Devon Ryan
    Sep 7, 2021 at 5:36

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