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Dev Biol. 1999 Jan 15;205(2):322-31.

A role for Rho-like GTPases in the polarisation of mouse eight-cell blastomeres.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3DY, United Kingdom.


Polarisation of cells during mouse preimplantation development first occurs within blastomeres at the eight-cell stage, as part of a process called compaction. Cell-cell contact mediated by the cell adhesion molecule uvomorulin (E-cadherin) and the activity of the microfilament cytoskeleton are important in the development of compaction, which is crucial for establishment of trophoblast and pluriblast (inner cell mass) lineages and for subsequent development. Members of the Rho family of p21 GTPases have been shown to regulate the organisation of the actin cytoskeleton and adhesion in other cell types. The potential role of these proteins in compaction was investigated. Inhibition of Rho with Clostridium botulinum C3-transferase disturbed intercellular flattening at compaction and prevented cytocortical microfilament polarisation of eight-cell blastomeres, in contrast to cytochalasin D which inhibited only adhesion. Microinjection of a constitutively activated recombinant Rho protein into four-cell blastomeres induced cortical microfilament disruption and apical displacement of nuclei associated with polarised clustering of microtubules. Interblastomere adhesion was reduced and E-cadherin was aberrently clustered at remaining cell-cell contacts. Similarly, activated Cdc42 protein induced nuclear displacement with additional cytoplasmic actin bundle formation between nucleus and cell-cell contacts. The effects produced by both of the activated GTPase proteins are indicative of prematurely induced but aberrently organised polarity. These results suggest that Rho family GTPases are involved in the polarisation of early mouse blastomeres.

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