Initiation of a conserved trophectoderm program in human, cow and mouse embryos

Claudia Gerri, Afshan McCarthy, Gregorio Alanis-Lobato, Andrej Demtschenko, Alexandre Bruneau, Sophie Loubersac, Norah M E Fogarty, Daniel Hampshire, Kay Elder, Phil Snell, Leila Christie, Laurent David, Hilde Van de Velde, Ali A Fouladi-Nashta, Kathy K Niakan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Current understandings of cell specification in early mammalian pre-implantation development are based mainly on mouse studies. The first lineage differentiation event occurs at the morula stage, with outer cells initiating a trophectoderm (TE) placental progenitor program. The inner cell mass arises from inner cells during subsequent developmental stages and comprises precursor cells of the embryo proper and yolk sac1. Recent gene-expression analyses suggest that the mechanisms that regulate early lineage specification in the mouse may differ in other mammals, including human2-5 and cow6. Here we show the evolutionary conservation of a molecular cascade that initiates TE segregation in human, cow and mouse embryos. At the morula stage, outer cells acquire an apical-basal cell polarity, with expression of atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) at the contact-free domain, nuclear expression of Hippo signalling pathway effectors and restricted expression of TE-associated factors such as GATA3, which suggests initiation of a TE program. Furthermore, we demonstrate that inhibition of aPKC by small-molecule pharmacological modulation or Trim-Away protein depletion impairs TE initiation at the morula stage. Our comparative embryology analysis provides insights into early lineage specification and suggests that a similar mechanism initiates a TE program in human, cow and mouse embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-447
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume587
Issue number7834
Early online date23 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

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