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Biol Reprod. 1993 Jul;49(1):1-12.

Mouse preimplantation embryos exhibit receptor-mediated binding and transcytosis of maternal insulin-like growth factor I.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia 19104.


High-resolution microscopy in conjunction with colloidal gold-labeled insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) has been used to provide evidence that the IGF-I receptor is first detected in 8-cell-stage mouse embryos, confirming the results of previous reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) studies. Specificity for the IGF-I receptor was demonstrated by displacement with unlabeled IGF-I and dual-labeling experiments with colloidal gold-labeled or unlabeled insulin. Labeled IGF-I ligand is internalized by means of receptor-mediated endocytosis following its concentration in coated pits, and it can be visualized within cytoplasmic organelles. Immunocytochemical analyses at the blastocyst stage, using gold-labeled antibodies to the receptor, confirmed the expression of IGF-I receptors on all cells of the embryo. Similar studies with antibodies directed against the ligand demonstrated that IGF-I internalized by the embryo in vivo is maternally derived. Approximately 40% of blastocysts showed apical plasma membrane binding of gold-labeled ligand ("responders"), while approximately 60% did not demonstrate binding ("nonresponders"); however, both classes of embryo expressed receptors on basolateral membranes of trophectoderm cells and on the surface of inner masses. Functional studies show that incubating embryos in physiological levels of IGF-I (40 ng/ml) results in increased numbers of cells in the inner cell mass (p < 0.05), but not the trophectoderm, as compared to controls.

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