Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 16611995
Mol. Cell. Biol. 2006 May;26(9):3541-9
Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved pathway involved in intercellular communication and is essential for proper cell fate choices. Numerous genes participate in the modulation of the Notch signaling pathway activity. Among them, Notchless (Nle) is a direct regulator of the Notch activity identified in Drosophila melanogaster. Here, we characterized the murine ortholog of Nle and demonstrated that it has conserved the ability to modulate Notch signaling. We also generated mice deficient for mouse Nle (mNle) and showed that its disruption resulted in embryonic lethality shortly after implantation. In late mNle(-/-) blastocysts, inner cell mass (ICM) cells died through a caspase 3-dependent apoptotic process. Most deficient embryos exhibited a delay in the temporal down-regulation of Oct4 expression in the trophectoderm (TE). However, mNle-deficient TE was able to induce decidual swelling in vivo and properly differentiated in vitro. Hence, our results indicate that mNle is mainly required in ICM cells, being instrumental for their survival, and raise the possibility that the death of mNle-deficient embryos might result from abnormal Notch signaling during the first steps of development.