Researchers have tracked and isolated germ cells derived from human embryonic stem cells and studied which genes are involved in their formation. The work, published online in Nature, could have implications for infertility research, as defects in oocyte and sperm cell development are the leading cause of infertility in both men and women.
Renee Reijo -Pera and colleagues wanted to develop a system to examine the events that are involved in germ-cell formation, retention of the pluripotent state, and progression through cell division to become these sex cells. They studied four embryonic stem-cell lines - two male and two female - and show that a gene called DAZL is involved in the early germ-cell formation. Two closely related genes, DAZ and BOULE, promote the later stages of development. Mutations in these genes are known to be involved in human infertility; however, because they are not present in mice, they have been difficult to study until now. The work is significant to the generation of germ cells for both basic research and potential clinical applications.
Renee Reijo-Pera (Stanford University, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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