The interplay of signalling input and downstream transcriptional activity is the key molecular attribute driving the differentiation of germ layer tissue and the specification of cell lineages within each germ layer during gastrulation. This review delves into the current understanding of signalling and transcriptional control of lineage development in the germ layers of mouse embryo and non-human primate embryos during gastrulation and highlights the inter-species conservation and divergence of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of germ layer development in the human embryo.

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