Mouse embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells form permeable junctions at their homotypic cell-to-cell contacts which permit intercellular exchange of metabolites (metabolic co-operation). Hooper & Slack (1977) showed how this exchange could be detected by autoradiography as the transfer of [3H]nucleotides between PCI3 (a pluripotential EC line) and PCI 3- TG8 (a variant of PC13 which is deficient in hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyltransferase). We now show that cells taken from several different tissues of early mouse embryos, that is, from the morula, the inner cell mass of the blastocyst, and the endoderm, mesoderm and embryonic ectoderm of the 8th day egg cylinder, are able to serve as donors of [3H] ucleotides to PC13TG8. In contrast, trophectodermal cells of cultured blastocysts, and the trophectodermal derivatives in the 8th day egg cylinder, that is, extra-embryonic ectoderm and ectoplacental cone cells, showed little or no metabolic co-operation with PC13TG8. With reference to some common properties of EC and embryonic cells, we suggest how our findings may provide insight into cell-to-cell interactions in the early mouse embryo.

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