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Dev Biol. 1990 Jan;137(1):13-25.

Inner cell allocation in the mouse morula: the role of oriented division during fourth cleavage.

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Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


Two populations of blastomeres become positionally distinct during fourth cleavage in the mouse embryo; the inner cells become enclosed within the embryo and the outer cells form the enclosing layer. The segregation of these two cell populations is important for later development, because it represents the initial step in the divergence of placental and fetal lineages. The mechanism by which the inner cells become allocated has been thought to involve the oriented division of polarized 8-cell blastomeres, but this has never been examined in the intact embryo. By using the technique of time-lapse cinemicrography, we have been able for the first time to directly examine the division planes of 8-cell blastomeres during fourth cleavage, and find that there are three, rather than two, major division plane orientations; anticlinal (perpendicular to the outer surface of the blastomere), periclinal (parallel to the outer surface of the blastomere), and oblique (at an angle between the other two). The observed frequencies of each type of division plane orientation provide evidence that the inner cells of the morula must derive from oriented division of 8-cell blastomeres, in accordance with the polarization hypothesis. Analysis of fourth cleavage division plane orientation with respect to either lineage or division order reveals that it is not associated with lineage from either the 2- or the 4-cell stage, but has a slight statistical association with fourth cleavage division order. The lack of association between division plane orientation and lineage supports the prediction that packing patterns and intercellular interactions within the 8-cell embryo during compaction play a role in determining fourth cleavage division plane orientation and thus, the positional fate of the daughter 16-cell blastomeres.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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