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Embryo Size Regulates the Timing and Mechanism of Pluripotent Tissue Morphogenesis

last modified Dec 02, 2020 10:37 AM


Mammalian embryogenesis is a paradigm of regulative development as mouse embryos show plasticity in the regulation of cell fate, cell number, and tissue morphogenesis. However, the mechanisms behind embryo plasticity remain largely unknown. Here, we determine how mouse embryos respond to an increase in cell numbers to regulate the timing and mechanism of embryonic morphogenesis, leading to the formation of the pro-amniotic cavity. Using embryos and embryonic stem cell aggregates of different size, we show that while pro-amniotic cavity formation in normal-sized embryos is achieved through basement membrane-induced polarization and exocytosis, cavity formation of increased-size embryos is delayed and achieved through apoptosis of cells that lack contact with the basement membrane. Importantly, blocking apoptosis, both genetically and pharmacologically, alters pro-amniotic cavity formation but does not affect size regulation in enlarged embryos. We conclude that the regulation of embryonic size and morphogenesis, albeit concomitant, have distinct molecular underpinnings.

Lorenzo C. Orietti, Viviane Souza Rosa, Francesco Antonica, Christos Kyprianou, William Mansfield, Henrique Marques-Souza, Marta N. Shahbazi,  Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

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