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Cell Res. 2010 Sep;20(9):982-93. doi: 10.1038/cr.2010.106. Epub 2010 Jul 13.

Molecular basis of the first cell fate determination in mouse embryogenesis.

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  • 1Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Bioactive Materials, College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, 94 Weijin Road, Tianjin 300071, China.


Through proliferation and differentiation, a single cell, the zygote, can give rise to a complex organism composed of many types of cells. Up to the eight-cell embryo stage, the blastomeres are morphologically identical and distributed symmetrically in the mammalian embryo. Functionally, in some species, they are all totipotent. However, due to the compaction of blastomeres and the asymmetrical cell division at the late phase of the eight-cell embryo, the blastomeres of the morula are no longer identical. During the transition from morula to blastocyst, blastomeres differentiate, resulting in the first cell fate decision in embryogenesis, namely, the segregation of the inner cell mass and the trophectoderm. In this review, we will discuss the regulatory mechanisms essential for the cell fate choice during blastocyst development, including transcriptional regulation, epigenetic regulation, microRNAs, and signal transduction.

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