Crosses between the North American deer mouse species Peromyscus maniculatus (BW) and P. polionotus (PO) produce dramatic asymmetric developmental effects. BW females mated to PO males (female bw × male po) produce viable growth-retarded offspring. In contrast, PO females mated to BW males (female PO × male BW) produce overgrown but dysmorphic conceptuses. Most female PO × male BW offspring are dead by midgestation; those surviving to later time points display numerous defects reminiscent of several diseases. The hybrid effects are particularly pronounced in the placenta. Here we examine placental morphological defects via histology and in situ hybridization as well as the relationship between growth and mortality in the female PO × male BW cross. These assays indicate altered hybrid fetal:placental ratios by the equivalent of mouse (Mus) Embryonic Day (E) 13 and disorganization and labyrinth defects in female PO × male BW placentas and confirm earlier suggestions of a severely reduced junctional zone in the female bw × male po hybrids. Further, we show that both cellular proliferation and death are abnormal in the hybrids through BrdU incorporation and TUNEL assays, respectively. Together the data indicate that the origin of the effects is prior to the equivalent of Mus E10. Finally, as the majority of these assays had not previously been performed on Peromyscus, these studies provide comparative data on wild-type placentation.
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Vol. 83 • No. 6