Cell polarity and asymmetry play a fundamental role in embryo development. The unequal segregation of determinants, cues, and activities is the major event in the differentiation of cell fate and function in all multicellular organisms. In oocytes, polarity and asymmetry in the distribution of different molecules are prerequisites for the progression and proper outcome of embryonic development. The mouse oocyte, like the oocytes of other mammals, seems to apply a less stringent strategy of polarization than other vertebrates. The mouse embryo undergoes a regulative type of development, which permits the full rectification of development even if the embryo loses up to half of its cells or its size is experimentally doubled during the early stages of embryogenesis. Such pliability is strongly related to the proper oocyte polarization before fertilization. Thus, the molecular mechanisms leading to the development and maintenance of oocyte polarity must be included in any fundamental understanding of the principles of embryo development. In this chapter, we provide an overview of current knowledge regarding the development and maintenance of polarity and asymmetry in the distribution of organelles and molecules in the mouse oocyte. Curiously, the mouse oocyte becomes polarized at least twice during ontogenesis; the question of how this phenomenon is achieved and what role it might play is addressed in this chapter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-44
Number of pages22
JournalResults and Problems in Cell Differentiation
StatePublished - Oct 12 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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