The second cleavage of the mouse embryo is asynchronous. Some recent investigators have proposed that the sequence of division of blastomeres in two-cell embryos may predict the ultimate location of the descendants of these blastomeres within the blastocyst. To verify this model, we tracked the cells derived from two-cell stage blastomeres using tetramethylrhodamine-conjugated dextran as a lineage tracer. In the first variant of the experiment, we labeled one of two blastomeres in two-cell embryos and subsequently recorded which blastomere cleaved first. In the second variant of the experiment, fluorescent dextran was injected at the three-cell stage into the blastomere that had not yet cleaved. Subsequently, the fate of the progeny of labeled and unlabeled blastomeres was followed up to the blastocyst stage. Our results suggest that allocation of cells into the embryonic and abembryonic parts of the blastocyst is not determined by the order of cleavage of the first two blastomeres.
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