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Mol Hum Reprod. 2005 Jun;11(6):405-11. Epub 2005 May 6.

DAZL expression in human oocytes, preimplantation embryos and embryonic stem cells.

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Research Centre Reproduction and Genetics, University Hospital and Medical School of the 'Vrije Universiteit Brussel' (Brussels Free University), Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Brussels, Belgium.


In humans, the Deleted in Azoospermia Like (DAZL) gene is believed to function in the development of primordial germ cells and in germ cell differentiation and maturation because the expression of DAZL is only found in the germ and non-germ lineage of the reproductive system and in embryonic stem (ES) cells. The present study examined the presence of DAZL transcripts in the last stages of oocyte maturation, in ES cells, and throughout the preimplantation development; the link between gametes and ES cells. The finding of DAZL transcripts in the last stages of oogenesis and during the first two cell cycles of the preimplantation development was expected, because DAZL is a germ cell marker and the transcripts present at that time are generally encoded by the maternal genome. During the third cell cycle, DAZL showed a variable expression pattern, which may point to the maternal to embryonic transition. After the third cell cycle, transcripts were again consistently detected, suggesting embryonic DAZL transcription. In blastocysts, DAZL transcripts were only detected in those of good quality and this as well in the inner cell mass (ICM) as in the trophectoderm (TE). The presence of DAZL transcripts in the ICM and in ES cells was not surprising since both can lead to the formation of germ cells, but TE cells cannot. The quality-related expression of DAZL in blastocysts, and especially its trophectodermal expression, might imply other functions for DAZL beyond germ cell development.

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