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Volume 563 Issue 7731, 15 November 2018

Secrets of pregnancy

The cellular changes that occur in the early stages of pregnancy lay the foundations for reproductive success. In this week’s issue, Sarah Teichmann and her colleagues present a single-cell atlas of the interface that forms between mother and the developing fetus. The researchers performed RNA sequencing on some 70,000 cells from first-trimester placentas with matched cells from the mother’s blood and uterus. They uncovered remarkable complexity in the cell types and the cell–cell communication networks that form to support the growing fetus. The network shows that the mother’s immune system adapts to support the placenta as it implants and develops in the wall of the uterus. The atlas should help identify the causes of problems in pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia and stillbirth.

Cover image: Ania Hupalowska

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