Specification and epigenetic programming of the human germ line

Walfred W.C. Tang, Toshihiro Kobayashi, Naoko Irie, Sabine Dietmann, M. Azim Surani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

295 Citations (Scopus)


Primordial germ cells (PGCs), the precursors of sperm and eggs, are established in perigastrulation-stage embryos in mammals. Signals from extra-embryonic tissues induce a unique gene regulatory network in germline-competent cells for PGC specification. This network also initiates comprehensive epigenome resetting, including global DNA demethylation and chromatin reorganization. Mouse germline development has been studied extensively, but the extent to which such knowledge applies to humans was unclear. Here, we review the latest advances in human PGC specification and epigenetic reprogramming. The overall developmental dynamics of human and mouse germline cells appear to be similar, but there are crucial mechanistic differences in PGC specification, reflecting divergence in the regulation of pluripotency and early development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-600
Number of pages16
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Specification and epigenetic programming of the human germ line'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this