Primordial germ cells contain subpopulations that have greater ability to develop into pluripotential stem cells

Yasuhisa Matsui, Yuko Tokitake

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are undifferentiated germ cells in embryos. We previously found that some mouse PGCs develop into pluripotential cells (EG cells) when cultured on a feeder layer expressing the membrane bound form of Steel factor with culture medium containing leukemia inhibitory factor and basic fibroblast growth factor. To understand the mechanisms of the conversion of PGCs into EG cells, we attempted to identify PGC subpopulations that have the ability to develop into EG cells. Using flow cytometry, we fractionated PGCs by the expression of the cell surface antigen integrin α6, as well as by the detection of side-population (SP) cells in which stem cells are enriched in various tissues. PGCs with negative or low integrin α6 expression and with SP cell phenotype showed higher potential to convert to EG cells. Negative or low integrin α6 expression in PGCs was also correlated with lower expression of Ddx4, which is specifically expressed in PGCs after embryonic day 10.5. The results indicate that the primitive PGC population showing the SP cell phenotype among undifferentiated PGCs has a higher ability of being converted into EG cells. Thus, conversion of PGCs into pluripotential stem cells may be regulated by being influenced by the natural status of individual PGCs as well as the reprogramming process after starting culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-667
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment Growth and Differentiation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Sept


  • Integrin α6
  • Pluripotential stem cell
  • Primordial germ cell
  • Side-population cell


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