The first lineage decision during mammalian development is the establishment of the trophectoderm (TE) and the inner cell mass (ICM). The caudal-type homeodomain protein Cdx2 is implicated in the formation and maintenance of the TE in the mouse. However, the role of CDX2 during early embryonic development in primates is unknown. Here, we demonstrated that CDX2 mRNA levels were detectable in rhesus monkey oocytes, significantly upregulated in pronuclear stage zygotes, diminished in early cleaving embryos but restored again in compact morula and blastocyst stages. CDX2 protein was localized to the nucleus of TE cells but absent altogether in the ICM. Knockdown of CDX2 in monkey oocytes resulted in formation of early blastocyst-like embryos that failed to expand and ceased development. However, the ICM lineage of CDX2-deficient embryos supported the isolation of functional embryonic stem cells. These results provide evidence that CDX2 plays an essential role in functional TE formation during primate embryonic development.
- Embryonic stem cells