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Germline recruitment in mice: a genetic program for epigenetic reprogramming.

TitleGermline recruitment in mice: a genetic program for epigenetic reprogramming.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsOhinata Y, Seki Y, Payer B, O'Carroll D, Surani MA, Saitou M
JournalErnst Schering Res Found Workshop
Date Published2006
KeywordsAnimals, Cell Lineage, Epigenesis, Genetic, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Germ Cells, Humans, Mice, Time Factors, Transcription Factors

Germ cells provide an enduring link between generations and therefore must possess the fundamental ability of reprogramming their genome to generate a totipotent state. We wish to understand the molecular basis of the unique properties of the mammalian germ line. Recently we identified Blimp1, a potent transcriptional repressor of a histone methyltransferase subfamily, as a critical determinant of the germ cell lineage in mice. Surprisingly, Blimp1 expression marks the origin of the germ line in proximal epiblast cells in pregastrulation embryos, substantially earlier than previously thought. Furthermore, we showed that established primordial germ cells undergo extensive erasure of genome-wide histone H3 lysine 9 dimethylation (H3K9me2) and DNA methylation, two major repressive epigenetic modifications, and instead acquire high levels of H3-K27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) in their migration period. We suggest that germline specification is a genetic system for the orderly reprogramming of the cells' epigenome toward a totipotent state, with reacquisition of totipotency-associated transcription factors and continued Blimp1 expression preventing their reversion to an explicit pluripotent state or somatic differentiation.

Alternate JournalErnst Schering Res. Found. Workshop
PubMed ID16903422
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