Multiscale analysis of single and double maternal-zygotic Myh9 and Myh10 mutants during mouse preimplantation development
During the first days of mammalian development, the embryo forms the blastocyst, the structure responsible for implanting the mammalian embryo. Consisting of an epithelium enveloping the pluripotent inner cell mass and a fluid-filled lumen, the blastocyst results from a series of cleavage divisions, morphogenetic movements, and lineage specification. Recent studies have identified the essential role of actomyosin contractility in driving cytokinesis, morphogenesis, and fate specification, leading to the formation of the blastocyst. However, the preimplantation development of contractility mutants has not been characterized. Here, we generated single and double maternal-zygotic mutants of non-muscle myosin II heavy chains (NMHCs) to characterize them with multiscale imaging. We found that Myh9 (NMHC II-A) is the major NMHC during preimplantation development as its maternal-zygotic loss causes failed cytokinesis, increased duration of the cell cycle, weaker embryo compaction, and reduced differentiation, whereas Myh10 (NMHC II-B) maternal-zygotic loss is much less severe. Double maternal-zygotic mutants for Myh9 and Myh10 show a much stronger phenotype, failing most of the attempts of cytokinesis. We found that morphogenesis and fate specification are affected but nevertheless carry on in a timely fashion, regardless of the impact of the mutations on cell number. Strikingly, even when all cell divisions fail, the resulting single-celled embryo can initiate trophectoderm differentiation and lumen formation by accumulating fluid in increasingly large vacuoles. Therefore, contractility mutants reveal that fluid accumulation is a cell-autonomous process and that the preimplantation program carries on independently of successful cell division.