Development of germ cells in the mouse.
In mammals, germ cells are induced from a population of cells at the base of the allantois. This regulative mechanism of germ line induction depends on Bmp signals and a combination of epigenetic changes that silence somatic differentiation genes and activate pluripotency genes. RNA binding proteins are a conserved feature of germ cell development in mammals, and play critical roles in the establishment and maintenance of pluripotency. After their specification, germ cells move through the gut to the gonads under the influence of migratory and attractive cues. In the gonad, germ cells initiate sex-specific differentiation. Germ cells that arrive in the ovary enter meiosis, whereas germ cells that arrive in the testis undergo mitotic arrest. Entry into meiosis is controlled by retinoic acid signals that are blocked in the testis. The signals regulating mitotic arrest in the testis are still not completely understood, but likely involve RNA-binding proteins. Epigenetic reprograming occurs during specification, migratory stages, and sex-specific stages, when maternal and paternal imprints are established. The facility of transitions between germ cells and stem cells suggests a close relationship among their genomic programs.
Durcova-Hills, G; Capel, B
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)