The transition from meiotic to mitotic spindle assembly is gradual during early mammalian development

J Cell Biol. 2012 Aug 6;198(3):357-70. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201202135. Epub 2012 Jul 30.


The transition from meiosis to mitosis, classically defined by fertilization, is a fundamental process in development. However, its mechanism remains largely unexplored. In this paper, we report a surprising gradual transition from meiosis to mitosis over the first eight divisions of the mouse embryo. The first cleavages still largely share the mechanism of spindle formation with meiosis, during which the spindle is self-assembled from randomly distributed microtubule-organizing centers (MTOCs) without centrioles, because of the concerted activity of dynein and kinesin-5. During preimplantation development, the number of cellular MTOCs progressively decreased, the spindle pole gradually became more focused, and spindle length progressively scaled down with cell size. The typical mitotic spindle with centrin-, odf2-, kinesin-12-, and CP110-positive centrosomes was established only in the blastocyst. Overall, the transition from meiosis to mitosis progresses gradually throughout the preimplantation stage in the mouse embryo, thus providing a unique system to study the mechanism of centrosome biogenesis in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Centrioles / genetics
  • Centrosome / ultrastructure
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Dyneins / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Kinesin / genetics
  • Meiosis*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Microtubule-Organizing Center
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Mitosis*
  • Spindle Apparatus / genetics
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Zygote / metabolism


  • Dyneins
  • Kinesin