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Curr Top Dev Biol. 2016;120:235-58. doi: 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 May 17.

Mouse Embryo Compaction.

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Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR, Singapore, Singapore.
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR, Singapore, Singapore. Electronic address:


Compaction is a critical first morphological event in the preimplantation development of the mammalian embryo. Characterized by the transformation of the embryo from a loose cluster of spherical cells into a tightly packed mass, compaction is a key step in the establishment of the first tissue-like structures of the embryo. Although early investigation of the mechanisms driving compaction implicated changes in cell-cell adhesion, recent work has identified essential roles for cortical tension and a compaction-specific class of filopodia. During the transition from 8 to 16 cells, as the embryo is compacting, it must also make fundamental decisions regarding cell position, polarity, and fate. Understanding how these and other processes are integrated with compaction requires further investigation. Emerging imaging-based techniques that enable quantitative analysis from the level of cell-cell interactions down to the level of individual regulatory molecules will provide a greater understanding of how compaction shapes the early mammalian embryo.


Cell polarity; Cell shape; Compaction; Mouse embryo; Preimplantation

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