What Can Stem Cell Models Tell Us About Human Germ Cell Biology?

Naoko Irie, Anastasiya Sybirna, M. Azim Surani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

14 Citations (Scopus)


Fusion of sperm and egg generates a totipotent zygote that develops into a whole organism. Accordingly, the “immortal” germline transmits genetic and epigenetic information to subsequent generations with consequences for human health and disease. In mammals, primordial germ cells (PGCs) originate from peri-gastrulation embryos. While early human embryos are inaccessible for research, in vitro model systems using pluripotent stem cells have provided critical insights into human PGC specification, which differs from that in mice. This might stem from significant differences in early embryogenesis at the morphological and molecular levels, including pluripotency networks. Here, we discuss recent advances and experimental systems used to study mammalian germ cell development. We also highlight key aspects of germ cell disorders, as well as mitochondrial and potentially epigenetic inheritance in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology
EditorsAli H. Brivanlou
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages41
ISBN (Print)9780128042519
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology
ISSN (Print)0070-2153


  • BLIMP1
  • Developmental competency
  • Epiblast
  • Epigenetic inheritance
  • Germ cell tumor
  • Human pluripotent stem cells
  • Human primordial germ cells
  • Mitochondrial bottleneck
  • Periimplantation development
  • SOX17

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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