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Development. 2012 Jan;139(1):3-14. doi: 10.1242/dev.060095.

Cell fate decisions and axis determination in the early mouse embryo.

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Developmental Genetics Group, Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, 1-1 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


The mouse embryo generates multiple cell lineages, as well as its future body axes in the early phase of its development. The early cell fate decisions lead to the generation of three lineages in the pre-implantation embryo: the epiblast, the primitive endoderm and the trophectoderm. Shortly after implantation, the anterior-posterior axis is firmly established. Recent studies have provided a better understanding of how the earliest cell fate decisions are regulated in the pre-implantation embryo, and how and when the body axes are established in the pregastrulation embryo. In this review, we address the timing of the first cell fate decisions and of the establishment of embryonic polarity, and we ask how far back one can trace their origins.

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