The transition from peri-implantation to gastrulation in mammals entails the specification and organization of the lineage progenitors into a body plan. Technical and ethical challenges have limited understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie this transition. We established a culture system that enabled the development of cynomolgus monkey embryos in vitro for up to 20 days. Cultured embryos underwent key primate developmental stages, including lineage segregation, bilaminar disc formation, amniotic and yolk sac cavitation, and primordial germ cell–like cell (PGCLC) differentiation. Single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis revealed development trajectories of primitive endoderm, trophectoderm, epiblast lineages, and PGCLCs. Analysis of single-cell chromatin accessibility identified transcription factors specifying each cell type. Our results reveal critical developmental events and complex molecular mechanisms underlying nonhuman primate embryogenesis in the early postimplantation period, with possible relevance to human development.
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