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EMBO Rep. 2004 Nov;5(11):1078-83.

Oct4 is required for primordial germ cell survival.

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  • 1Germline Development, Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania, 382 W. Street Road, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania 19348, USA.


Previous studies have shown that Oct4 has an essential role in maintaining pluripotency of cells of the inner cell mass (ICM) and embryonic stem cells. However, Oct4 null homozygous embryos die around the time of implantation, thus precluding further analysis of gene function during development. We have used the conditional Cre/loxP gene targeting strategy to assess Oct4 function in primordial germ cells (PGCs). Loss of Oct4 function leads to apoptosis of PGCs rather than to differentiation into a trophectodermal lineage, as has been described for Oct4-deficient ICM cells. These new results suggest a previously unknown function of Oct4 in maintaining viability of mammalian germline.

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