Modelling germ cell development in vitro

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Germ cells have a critical role in mediating the generation of genetic diversity and transmitting this information across generations. Furthermore, gametogenesis is unique as a developmental process in that it generates highly-specialized haploid gametes from diploid precursor stem cells through meiosis. Despite the importance of this process, progress in elucidating the molecular mechanisms underpinning mammalian germ cell development has been retarded by the lack of an efficient and reproducible system of in vitro culture for the expansion and trans-meiotic differentiation of germline cells. The dearth of such a culture system has rendered the study of germ cell biology refractory to the application of new high-throughput technologies such as RNA interference, leaving in vivo gene-targeting approaches as the only option to determine the function of genes believed to be involved in gametogenesis. Recent reports detailing the derivation of gametes in vitro from stem cells may provide the first steps in developing new tools to solve this problem. This review considers the developments made in modelling germ cell development using stem cells, and some of the challenges that need to be overcome to make this a useful tool for studying gametogenesis and to realize any future clinical application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-11
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


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