Protein expression reveals a molecular sexual identity of avian primordial germ cells at pre-gonadal stages

Laura Soler, Sabine Alves, Aurélien Brionne, Aurore Jacques, Vanessa Guérin, Maeva Cherif-Feildel, Lucie Combes-Soia, Sophie Fouchécourt, Aurore Thélie, Elisabeth Blesbois, Michael J McGrew, Valérie Labas, Marina S Govoroun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In poultry, in vitro propagated primordial germ cells (PGCs) represent an important tool for the cryopreservation of avian genetic resources. However, several studies have highlighted sexual differences exhibited by PGCs during in vitro propagation, which may compromise their reproductive capacities. To understand this phenomenon, we compared the proteome of pregonadal migratory male (ZZ) and female (ZW) chicken PGCs propagated in vitro by quantitative proteomic analysis using a GeLC-MS/MS strategy. Many proteins were found to be differentially abundant in chicken male and female PGCs indicating their early sexual identity. Many of the proteins more highly expressed in male PGCs were encoded by genes localised to the Z sex chromosome. This suggests that the known lack of dosage compensation of the transcription of Z-linked genes between sexes persists at the protein level in PGCs, and that this may be a key factor of their autonomous sex differentiation. We also found that globally, protein differences do not closely correlate with transcript differences indicating a selective translational mechanism in PGCs. Male and female PGC expressed protein sets were associated with differential biological processes and contained proteins known to be biologically relevant for male and female germ cell development, respectively. We also discovered that female PGCs have a higher capacity to uptake proteins from the cell culture medium than male PGCs. This study presents the first evidence of an early predetermined sex specific cell fate of chicken PGCs and their sexual molecular specificities which will enable the development of more precise sex-specific in vitro culture conditions for the preservation of avian genetic resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19236
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2021


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