Mammalian germ cell migration during development, growth, and homeostasis

Mizuho Kanamori, Kenta Oikawa, Kentaro Tanemura, Kenshiro Hara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Germ cells represent one of the typical cell types that moves over a long period of time and large distance within the animal body. To continue its life cycle, germ cells must migrate to spatially distinct locations for proper development. Defects in such migration processes can result in infertility. Thus, for more than a century, the principles of germ cell migration have been a focus of interest in the field of reproductive biology. Methods: Based on published reports (mainly from rodents), investigations of germ cell migration before releasing from the body, including primordial germ cells (PGCs), gonocytes, spermatogonia, and immature spermatozoon, were summarized. Main findings: Germ cells migrate with various patterns, with each migration step regulated by distinct mechanisms. During development, PGCs actively and passively migrate from the extraembryonic region toward genital ridges through the hindgut epithelium. After sex determination, male germline cells migrate heterogeneously in a developmental stage-dependent manner within the testis. Conclusion: During migration, there are multiple gates that disallow germ cells from re-entering the proper developmental pathway after wandering off the original migration path. The presence of gates may ensure the robustness of germ cell development during development, growth, and homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages9
JournalReproductive Medicine and Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul


  • germ cell migration
  • gonocyte
  • gut endoderm
  • primordial germ cell
  • spermatogonia


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