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Dev Dyn. 2003 Dec;228(4):751-66.

Tetraploid development in the mouse.

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  • 1Program in Developmental Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, and Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Spontaneous duplication of the mammalian genome occurs in approximately 1% of fertilizations. Although one or more whole genome duplications are believed to have influenced vertebrate evolution, polyploidy of contemporary mammals is generally incompatible with normal development and function of all but a few tissues. The production of tetraploid (4n) embryos has become a common experimental manipulation in the mouse. Although development of tetraploid mice has generally not been observed beyond midgestation, tetraploid:diploid (4n:2n) chimeras are widely used as a method for rescuing extraembryonic defects. The tolerance of tissues to polyploidy appears to be dependent on genetic background. Indeed, the recent discovery of a naturally tetraploid rodent species suggests that, in rare genetic backgrounds, mammalian genome duplications may be compatible with the development of viable and fertile adults. Thus, the range of developmental potentials of tetraploid embryos remains in large part unexplored. Here, we review the biological consequences and experimental utility of tetraploid mammals, in particular the mouse.

Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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