Mash2 acts cell autonomously in mouse spongiotrophoblast development

M Tanaka, M Gertsenstein, J Rossant, A Nagy
Developmental Biology 1997 October 1, 190 (1): 55-65
The Mash2 gene, which encodes a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, is one of the mammalian homologues of the Drosophila achaete-scute genes. It is strongly expressed in diploid trophoblast cells of the postimplantation mouse embryo. Targeted mutagenesis of Mash2 revealed that loss of function results in embryonic lethality at midgestation, due to placental failure associated with a lack of spongiotrophoblast and reduced labyrinthine trophoblast layers. For the further study of Mash2 function in development of the trophoblast cell lineage, we have performed chimeric analysis combining Mash2 mutant and wild-type embryos. We have addressed the question of whether the phenotype of the Mash2 mutant embryo, which affects all of the three trophoblast cell layers, is caused by a cell autonomous or non-autonomous defect and whether Mash2 is required in both spongiotrophoblast and labyrinthine trophoblast development. Our results showed no contribution of Mash2 mutant cells to the spongiotrophoblast layer in chimeric placentae at 10.5 and 12.5 days postcoitum, suggesting that the product of the Mash2 gene is required cell autonomously during the development of the spongiotrophoblast. However, it seems that Mash2 is not required for development of labyrinthine trophoblast or giant cells, since high contributions of Mash2 mutant cells were observed in those trophoblast cell layers in the chimeric placentae analyzed. We can therefore conclude that the primary and cell-autonomous function of Mash2 appears to be an involvement in the development of diploid trophoblast cells in the ectoplacental cone to form the spongiotrophoblast cell layer of the mature chorioallantoic placenta.

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