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Dev Growth Differ. 2001 Aug;43(4):327-42.

Of mice, frogs and flies: generation of membrane asymmetries in early development.

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Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Institut für Genetik, Universitätsstr. 1, D-40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


Embryonic development begins with cleavage of the fertilized egg. Cleavage comprises two major processes: cytokinesis and formation of a polarized epithelial cell layer. The focus of this review is comparison of the generation of membrane polarity during embryonic cleavage in three different developmental model systems. In mammalian embryos, as exemplified by analysis of the mouse, generation of distinct membrane domains is uncoupled from cleavage divisions and is initiated in a specific developmental phase, called compaction. In Xenopus laevis embryos, generation of polarized blastomeres occurs simultaneously with cytokinesis. The origin of specific membrane domains of X. laevis polar blastomeres, however, can be traced back to oogenesis. Finally, in Drosophila melanogaster, generation of polarized cells occurs at cellularization. The relevance of cell adhesion, cell junctions and cytocortical scaffolds will be discussed for each of the model systems. Despite enormous morphologic differences, the three models share many common features; in particular, many important molecular interactions are conserved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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