On the fate of primordial germ cells injected into early mouse embryos

Harry G. Leitch, Daiji Okamura, Gabriela Durcova-Hills, Colin L. Stewart, Richard L. Gardner, Yasuhisa Matsui, Virginia E. Papaioannou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are the founder cells of the germline. Via gametogenesis and fertilisation this lineage generates a new embryo in the next generation. PGCs are also the cell of origin of multilineage teratocarcinomas. In vitro, mouse PGCs can give rise to embryonic germ (EG) cells - pluripotent stem cells that can contribute to primary chimaeras when introduced into pre-implantation embryos. Thus, PGCs can give rise to pluripotent cells in the course of the developmental cycle, during teratocarcinogenesis and by in vitro culture. However, there is no evidence that PGCs can differentiate directly into somatic cell types. Furthermore, it is generally assumed that PGCs do not contribute to chimaeras following injection into the early mouse embryo. However, these data have never been formally published. Here, we present the primary data from the original PGC-injection experiments performed 40 years ago, alongside results from more recent studies in three separate laboratories. These results have informed and influenced current models of the relationship between pluripotency and the germline cycle. Current technologies allow further experiments to confirm and expand upon these findings and allow definitive conclusions as to the developmental potency of PGCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-159
Number of pages5
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 15


  • Germline
  • Pluripotency
  • Primordial germ cells


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