Differential plasticity of epiblast and primitive endoderm precursors within the ICM of the early mouse embryo

Joanna B. Grabarek, Krystyna Zyzyńska, Néstor Saiz, Anna Piliszek, Stephen Frankenberg, Jennifer Nichols, Anna Katerina Hadjantonakis, Berenika Plusa

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Cell differentiation during pre-implantation mammalian development involves the formation of two extra-embryonic lineages: trophoblast and primitive endoderm (PrE). A subset of cells within the inner cell mass (ICM) of the blastocyst does not respond to differentiation signals and forms the pluripotent epiblast, which gives rise to all of the tissues in the adult body. How this group of cells is set aside remains unknown. Recent studies documented distinct sequential phases of marker expression during the segregation of epiblast and PrE within the ICM. However, the connection between marker expression and lineage commitment remains unclear. Using a fluorescent reporter for PrE, we investigated the plasticity of epiblast and PrE precursors. Our observations reveal that loss of plasticity does not coincide directly with lineage restriction of epiblast and PrE markers, but rather with exclusion of the pluripotency marker Oct4 from the PrE. We note that individual ICM cells can contribute to all three lineages of the blastocyst until peri-implantation. However, epiblast precursors exhibit less plasticity than precursors of PrE, probably owing to differences in responsiveness to extracellular signalling. We therefore propose that the early embryo environment restricts the fate choice of epiblast but not PrE precursors, thus ensuring the formation and preservation of the pluripotent foetal lineage. © 2012. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-139
    Number of pages10
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


    • Cell plasticity
    • Epiblast
    • ICM
    • Lineage specification
    • Mouse blastocyst
    • Pdgfra
    • Pluripotency
    • Primitive endoderm


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