Most conceptuses derived by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in mice undergo developmental arrest as a result of embryonic or extraembryonic defects. Even when fetuses survive to term, prominent placental overgrowth or placentomegaly is often present, indicating that SCNT affects the development of trophoblast cell lineage. The trophoblast cell lineage is established at the blastocyst stage when the stem cell population of the trophoblast cell lineage resides in the polar trophectoderm. Therefore, it is possible that the developmental arrest and placentomegaly that accompany SCNT are induced by insufficient reprogramming of the donor somatic nucleus to enable the cells to acquire full potency as stem cells of the trophoblast cell lineage. Despite the abnormalities of the extraembryonic tissues of SCNT embryos, trophoblast stem (TS) cell lines have been successfully isolated from SCNT blastocysts and their properties appear to be indistinguishable from those of TS cells derived from native blastocysts. This suggests that SCNT does not affect the emergence and autonomous properties of TS cells. In this review, we discuss specification of cell lineage and the extent of reprogramming of TS cells in SCNT blastocysts.
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