Several researchers have suggested recently that the embryonic-abembryonic (Em-Ab) axis of the mouse blastocyst is orthogonal to the first cleavage plane of the two-cell embryo. To determine the universality of this relationship, we used embryos of two different genotypes, F1 (C57BL/6 × DBA/2) and CD-1. The position of the first cleavage plane in the early blastocyst was determined by labeling a blastomere with the fluorescent lineage tracer DiI (1,1′-dioctadecyl-3,3,3′,3′-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate) at the two-cell stage. Approximately one quarter of the blastocysts from both genotypes possessed an Em-Ab axis that respected the orthogonal relationship with the first cleavage plane. However, the remainder of the blastocysts deviated from the orthogonal relationship. This result indicates that the orthogonal orientation of the Em-Ab axis to the first cleavage plane is not a universal phenomenon. We also tested whether the angular relationship between the Em-Ab axis and first cleavage plane influences postimplantation embryo development. We sorted the blastocysts that had the Em-Ab axis orthogonal to the first cleavage plane from the ones that did not. These two types of blastocysts were transferred separately into surrogates, and fetal development was examined in late gestation. The results revealed that both types of blastocysts produced normal fetuses at a similar frequency. Thus, the relationship of the blastocyst axis to the first cleavage plane does not significantly influence later development.
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