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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2001 Aug;11(4):384-92.

From fertilization to gastrulation: axis formation in the mouse embryo.

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  • 116 Divinity Avenue, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 02138, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


Although much remains unknown about how the embryonic axis is laid down in the mouse, it is now clear that reciprocal interactions between the extraembryonic and embryonic lineages establish and reinforce patterning of the embryo. At early post-implantation stages, the extraembryonic ectoderm appears to impart proximal-posterior identity to the adjacent proximal epiblast, whereas the distal visceral endoderm signals to the underlying epiblast to restrict posterior identity as it moves anteriorward. At gastrulation, the visceral endoderm is necessary for specifying anterior primitive streak derivatives, which, in turn, pattern the anterior epiblast. Polarity of these extraembryonic tissues can be traced back to the blastocyst stage, where asymmetry has been linked to the point of sperm entry at fertilization.

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