Cdx2 Gene Expression and Trophectoderm Lineage Specification in Mouse Embryos

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Science  17 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5763, pp. 992-996
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120925

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Controversy exists as to whether individual blastomeres from two-cell-stage mouse embryos have identical developmental properties and fate. We show that the transcription factor Cdx2 is expressed in the nuclei of cells derived from the late-dividing but not the first-dividing blastomere of two-cell embryos and, by lineage tracing and RNA interference knock-down experiments, that this lagging cell is the precursor of trophectoderm. Cdx2 mRNA is localized toward the vegetal pole of oocytes, reorients after fertilization, and becomes concentrated in the late-dividing, two-cell-stage blastomere. The asymmetrical distribution of Cdx2 gene products in the oocyte and embryo defines the lineage to trophectoderm.

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