The preimplantation mammalian embryo offers a striking opportunity to address the question of how and why apparently identical cells take on separate fates. Two cell fate decisions are taken before the embryo implants; these decisions set apart a group of pluripotent cells, progenitors for the future body, from the distinct extraembryonic lineages of trophectoderm and primitive endoderm. New molecular, cellular and developmental insights reveal the interplay of transcriptional regulation, epigenetic modifications, cell position and cell polarity in these two fate decisions in the mouse. We discuss how mechanisms proposed in previously distinct models might work in concert to progressively reinforce cell fate decisions through feedback loops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-477
Number of pages11
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009


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