Cell polarity and development of the first epithelium.
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In the 4 1/2 to 5 days between fertilization and implantation, the mouse conceptus must gain the abilities to implant and produce an embryo. Each of these is the sole developmental responsibility of one of two cell types forming the blastocyst, trophectoderm and inner cell mass (ICM), respectively. Trophectoderm is a polarized transporting epithelium while the ICM is an aggregate of non-epithelial pluripotent stem cells. These two cell types originate from the division of polar blastomeres when their cleavage furrows parallel their apical surfaces. Blastomeres polarize in response to asymmetric cell--cell contact, and understanding the mechanism of this induction is regarded as the key to understanding the origin of trophectoderm and ICM. Here we propose a model based on transcellular ion current loops for the induction of cell polarity during the development of the first epithelium, trophectoderm.