Biochemistry and cell biology = Biochimie et biologie cellulaire
Several of the new reproductive technologies have been cultivated from our current understanding of the genetic programming and cellular processes that are involved in the major morphogenetic events of mammalian preimplantation development. Research directed at characterizing the patterns of gene expression during early development has shown that the embryo is initially under maternal control and later superseded by new transcriptional activity provided by the activation of the embryonic genome. Several embryonic transcripts encoding: (i) growth factors, (ii) cell junctions, (iii) plasma membrane ion transporters, and (iv) cell adhesion molecules have been identified as contributing directly to the progression of the embryo through the preimplantation interval of development. In this brief review, we have outlined the patterns of expression and the integral roles that these gene families play in the morphogenetic events of compaction and cavitation. Research of this type has greatly facilitate our understanding of the control processes that underlie preimplantation development and represent but one area of this exciting and vigorous field of research.