Heterogeneities in nanog expression drive stable commitment to pluripotency in the mouse blastocyst

Panagiotis Xenopoulos, Minjung Kang, Alberto Puliafito, Stefano DiTalia, Anna Katerina Hadjantonakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pluripotent epiblast (EPI) is the founder tissue of almost all somatic cells. EPI and primitive endoderm (PrE) progenitors arise from the inner cell mass (ICM) of the blastocyst-stage embryo. The EPI lineage isdistinctly identified by its expression of pluripotency-associated factors. Many of these factors have been reported to exhibit dynamic fluctuations of expression in embryonic stem cell cultures. Whether these fluctuations correlating with ICM fate choice occur invivo remains an open question. Using single-cell resolution quantitative imaging of a Nanog transcriptional reporter, we noted an irreversible commitment to EPI/PrE lineages invivo. A period of apoptosis occurred concomitantly with ICM cell-fate choice, followed by a burst of EPI-specific cell proliferation. Transitions were occasionally observed from PrE-to-EPI, but not vice versa, suggesting that they might be regulated and not stochastic. We propose that the rapid timescale of early mammalian embryonic development prevents fluctuations in cell fate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508-1520
Number of pages13
JournalCell Reports
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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