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Polarity and cell division orientation in the cleavage embryo: from worm to human

Ajduk, Anna and Zernicka-Goetz, Magdalena (2016) Polarity and cell division orientation in the cleavage embryo: from worm to human. Molecular Human Reproduction, 22 (10). pp. 691-703. ISSN 1360-9947. PMCID PMC5062000. doi:10.1093/molehr/gav068.

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Cleavage is a period after fertilization, when a 1-cell embryo starts developing into a multicellular organism. Due to a series of mitotic divisions, the large volume of a fertilized egg is divided into numerous smaller, nucleated cells—blastomeres. Embryos of different phyla divide according to different patterns, but molecular mechanism of these early divisions remains surprisingly conserved. In the present paper, we describe how polarity cues, cytoskeleton and cell-to-cell communication interact with each other to regulate orientation of the early embryonic division planes in model animals such as Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila and mouse. We focus particularly on the Par pathway and the actin-driven cytoplasmic flows that accompany it. We also describe a unique interplay between Par proteins and the Hippo pathway in cleavage mammalian embryos. Moreover, we discuss the potential meaning of polarity, cytoplasmic dynamics and cell-to-cell communication as quality biomarkers of human embryos.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Zernicka-Goetz, Magdalena0000-0002-7004-2471
Additional Information:© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. We would like to thank our colleague Meng Zhu, Dr Isabel Palacios and Dr Alexander W. Bruce for critical reading of the manuscript and their valuable comments. We would like to thank the Wellcome Trust to support the work in MZG laboratory. A.A. is a beneficent of the National Science Centre grant (UMO-2012/07/D/NZ5/04301). M.Z.-G. thanks the Wellcome Trust for supporting the work in her laboratory. Funding to pay the Open Access publication charges for this article was provided by the Wellcome Trust. Author's roles: A.A. and M.Z.-G. prepared the manuscript. The authors do not have any conflict of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Science Centre (Poland)UMO-2012/07/D/NZ5/04301
Subject Keywords:polarity, par proteins, Hippo signalling, cytoplasmic flow, embryo, C. elegans, Drosophila, mouse, human, preimplantation development
Issue or Number:10
PubMed Central ID:PMC5062000
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190409-123144282
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Anna Ajduk, Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, Polarity and cell division orientation in the cleavage embryo: from worm to human, MHR: Basic science of reproductive medicine, Volume 22, Issue 10, October 2016, Pages 691–703,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:94590
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Apr 2019 19:53
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:06

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