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PLoS One. 2010 Mar 10;5(3):e9610. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009610.

Normal bias in the direction of fetal rotation depends on blastomere composition during early cleavage in the mouse.

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  • Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom. rlg534@york.ac.uk


Interest in establishing the basis of left/right asymmetry during embryogenesis has burgeoned in recent years. Relevant studies in mammals, focused largely on the mouse, have revealed involvement of a variety of genes that are common to the process in other animals. In the mouse, lateral differences in gene expression are first evident late in gastrulation when directional rotation of nodal cilia has been implicated in effecting the normally very strong bias in handedness. Reconstructing cleavage stages with correspondingly positioned blastomeres from appropriate numbers of conceptuses with similar division planes provides a way of testing whether they differ in potency without the confounding effects of reduced cell number. In a study using this strategy, 4-cell stage conceptuses reconstructed from blastomeres produced by equatorial as opposed to meridional second cleavage were found to be compromised in their ability to support normal development. Here, in more refined reconstructions undertaken at both the 4- and 8-cell stage, no significant impairment of development to the 9(th) or 12(th) day of gestation was found for products of equatorial second cleavage or their 8-cell stage progeny. Most surprisingly, however, a significant increase in reversal of the direction of axial rotation was found specifically among fetuses developing from conceptuses reconstructed from 8-cell stage progeny of products of equatorial second cleavage. Hence, manipulations during early cleavage some 6 days before fetal asymmetries are first evident can perturb the normally very strong bias in specification of a facet of left-right asymmetry.

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