Actomyosin polarisation through PLC-PKC triggers symmetry breaking of the mouse embryo

26 Jul 2017

Establishment of cell polarity in the mammalian embryo is fundamental for the first cell fate decision that sets aside progenitor cells for both the new organism and the placenta. Yet the sequence of events and molecular mechanism that trigger this process remain unknown. Here, we show that de novo polarisation of the mouse embryo occurs in two distinct phases at the 8-cell stage. In the first phase, an apical actomyosin network is formed. This is a pre-requisite for the second phase, in which the Par complex localises to the apical domain, excluding actomyosin and forming a mature apical cap. Using a variety of approaches, we also show that phospholipase C-mediated PIP2 hydrolysis is necessary and sufficient to trigger the polarisation of actomyosin through the Rho-mediated recruitment of myosin II to the apical cortex. Together, these results reveal the molecular framework that triggers de novo polarisation of the mouse embryo.