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Simmet, Kilian; Zakhartchenko, Valeri; Wolf, Eckhard (2018): Comparative aspects of early lineage specification events in mammalian embryos - insights from reverse genetics studies. In: Cell Cycle, Vol. 17, No. 14: pp. 1688-1695
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Within the mammalian class, formation of the blastocyst is morphologically highly conserved among different species. The molecular and cellular events during preimplantation embryo development have been studied extensively in the mouse as model organism, because multiple genetically defined strains and a plethora of reverse genetics tools are available to dissect specific gene functions and regulatory networks. However, major differences in preimplantation developmental kinetics, implantation, and placentation exist among mammalians, and recent studies in species other than mouse showed, that even regulatory mechanisms of the first lineage differentiation events and maintenance of pluripotency are not always conserved. Here, we focus on the first and the second lineage segregation in mouse and bovine embryos, when the first differentiated cell types emerge. We outline their common features and differences in the regulation of these essential events during embryonic development with a glance at further species. In addition, we show how new reverse genetics strategies aid the study of regulatory circuits in embryos of domestic species, enhancing our overall understanding of mammalian preimplantation development.