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Dev Cell. 2001 Sep;1(3):377-87.

Mouse germline restriction of Oct4 expression by germ cell nuclear factor.

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Centre de Neurochimie, Laboratoire de Neurobiologie du Dévelopment et de la Régéneration, Cedex, France.


The POU-domain transcription factor Oct4 is essential for the maintenance of the mammalian germline. In this study, we show that the germ cell nuclear factor (GCNF), an orphan nuclear receptor, represses Oct4 gene activity by specifically binding within the proximal promoter. GCNF expression inversely correlates with Oct4 expression in differentiating embryonal cells. GCNF overexpression in embryonal cells represses Oct4 gene and transgene activities, and we establish a link to transcriptional corepressors mediating repression by GCNF. In GCNF-deficient mouse embryos, Oct4 expression is no longer restricted to the germ cell lineage after gastrulation. Our studies suggest that GCNF is critical in repressing Oct4 gene activity as pluripotent stem cells differentiate and in confining Oct4 expression to the germline.

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