Requirement for ERK MAP kinase in mouse preimplantation development

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.
Development (Impact Factor: 6.27). 09/2007; 134(15):2751-9. DOI: 10.1242/dev.003756
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Preimplantation development is a crucial step for successful implantation and pregnancy. Although both compaction and blastocyst formation have been extensively studied, mechanisms regulating the early cell division stages before compaction have remained unclear. Here, we show that extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase function is required for early embryonic cell division before compaction. Our analysis demonstrates that inhibition of ERK activation in late two-cell-stage embryos leads to a reversible arrest in the G2 phase at the four-cell stage. The G2-arrested four-cell-stage embryos showed weakened cell-cell adhesion as compared with control embryos. Remarkably, microarray analyses showed that most of the programmed changes of upregulated and downregulated gene expression during the four- to eight-cell stages proceeded normally in four-cell-stage-arrested embryos that were subsequently released to resume development; however, the expression profiles of a proportion of genes in these embryos closely paralleled the stages of embryonic rather than normal development. These parallel genes included the genes encoding intercellular adhesion molecules, whose expression appeared to be positively regulated by the ERK pathway. We also show that, whereas ERK inactivation in eight-cell-stage embryos did not lead to cell division arrest, it did cause this arrest when cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion was disrupted. These results demonstrate an essential role of ERK function in two-cell to eight-cell-stage embryos, and suggest a loose parallelism between the gene expression programs and the developmental stages before compaction.

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