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Development. 2009 Mar;136(5):701-13. doi: 10.1242/dev.017178.

Blastocyst lineage formation, early embryonic asymmetries and axis patterning in the mouse.

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Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children and Departments of Molecular Genetics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The investigation into lineage allocation and early asymmetries in the pre- and peri-implantation mouse embryo is gaining momentum. As we review here, new insights have been gained into the cellular and molecular events that lead to the establishment of the three lineages of the blastocyst, to the determination of the origin and the fates of the visceral endoderm in the peri-implantation mouse embryo, and to the generation of cellular and molecular activities that accompany the emergence of asymmetries in the pre-gastrulation embryo. We also discuss the continuing debate that surrounds the relative impacts of early lineage bias versus the stochastic allocation of cells with respect to the events that pattern the blastocyst and initiate its later asymmetries.

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