Parthenogenetic embryos of mice die shortly after implantation and characteristically contain poorly developed extraembryonic tissue. To investigate the basis of the abnormal development of parthenotes, we combined them with normal embryos to produce chimeras and examined the distribution of the parthenogenetically derived cells during preimplantation and early postimplantation development. The parthenogenetic embryos were derived from a transgenic mouse line bearing a large insert, which allowed these cells to be identified in histological sections using in situ hybridization. At the blastocyst stage, the parthenogenetic embryos contributed cells to the trophectoderm (TE) and inner cell mass (ICM) of chimeras. By 6.5 days, however, in almost every embryo, parthenogenetically derived cells were not detected in the extraembryonic trophoblast tissue descended from the TE. In contrast, parthenogenetically derived cells could contribute to all descendants of the ICM of 6.5-and 7.5-day chimeras, including the extraembryonic visceral and parietal endoderm. Quantitative analysis of the degree of chimerism in the embryonic ectoderm at 6.5-7.5 days indicated that parthenogenetically derived cells could contribute as extensively as normal cells. These results indicate that normal trophoblast development requires gene expression from the paternally inherited genome before 6.5 days of embryogenesis. Tissues of the ICM lineage, however, apparently can develop independently of the paternal genome at least to 7.5 days of embryogenesis. Comparison of these results with those of others suggests that the influence of imprinted genes is manifested at different times and in a variety of tissues during development.

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