The preimplantation mouse embryo is a simple self-contained system, making it an excellent model to discover how mammalian cells function in real time and in vivo. Work over the last decade has revealed some key morphogenetic mechanisms that drive early development, yielding rudimentary instructions for the generation of a mammalian embryo. Here, we review the instructions revealed thus far, and then discuss remaining challenges to discover upstream factors controlling cell fate determination, test the role of mechanisms based on biological noise, and take advantage of recent technological developments to advance the spatial and temporal resolution of our current understanding. In this Perspective, White et al. review the main morphogenetic mechanisms currently known to control the preimplantation development of the mouse embryo, from an oocyte to a hatched blastocyst. They discuss future challenges remaining and how recent technological developments may advance the spatial and temporal resolution of our current understanding.
- live imaging
- mouse embryo