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Genetic studies have identified the key signalling pathways and developmentally regulated transcription factors that govern cell lineage allocation and axis patterning in the early mammalian embryo. Recent advances have uncovered details of the molecular circuits that tightly control cell growth and differentiation in the mammalian embryo from the blastocyst stage, through the establishment of initial anterior-posterior polarity, to gastrulation, when the germ cells are set aside and the three primary germ layers are specified. Relevant studies in lower vertebrates indicate the conservation and divergence of regulatory mechanisms for cell lineage allocation and axis patterning.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol

Publication Date





91 - 103


Animals, Body Patterning, Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, Cell Lineage, Embryo, Mammalian, Gastrulation, Mice, Morphogenesis, Positive Regulatory Domain I-Binding Factor 1, Signal Transduction, Smad Proteins, Transcription Factors