The transcriptome of chicken migratory primordial germ cells reveals intrinsic sex differences and hallmark germ cell genes

Dadakhalandar Doddamani, Mark Woodcock, Lorna Taylor, Sunil Nandi, Lynn McTeir, Megan Davey, Jacqueline Smith, Mike McGrew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are germline-restricted embryonic cells that form the functional gametes of the adult animal. The use of avian PGCs in biobanking and producing genetically modified birds has driven research on the in vitro propagation and manipulation of these embryonic cells. In avian species, PGCs are hypothesized to be sexually undetermined at an early embryonic stage and undergo differentiation into an oocyte or spermatogonial fate dictated by extrinsic factors present in the gonad. However, chicken male and female PGCs require different culture conditions, suggesting that there are sex-specific differences, even at early stages. To understand potential differences between male and female chicken PGCs during migratory stages, we studied the transcriptomes of circulatory stage male and female PGCs propagated in a serum-free medium. We found that in vitro cultured PGCs were transcriptionally similar to their in ovo counterparts, with differences in cell proliferation pathways. Our analysis also revealed sex-specific transcriptome differences between male and female cultured PGCs, with notable differences in Smad7 and NCAM2 expression. A comparison of chicken PGCs with pluripotent and somatic cell types identified a set of genes that are exclusive to germ cells, enriched in the germplasm, and associated with germ cell development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1151
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalCells
Volume12
Issue number8
Early online date13 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • PGC
  • transcriptome
  • stem cell
  • gametogenesis
  • sex determination
  • chicken

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