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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Jan;11(1):37-49. doi: 10.1038/nrm2815.

Mechanisms guiding primordial germ cell migration: strategies from different organisms.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine at the Skirball Institute, Department of Cell Biology, New York University School of Medicine, New York University, New York, 10016, USA.


The regulated migration of cells is essential for development and tissue homeostasis, and aberrant cell migration can lead to an impaired immune response and the progression of cancer. Primordial germ cells (PGCs), precursors to sperm and eggs, have to migrate across the embryo to reach somatic gonadal precursors, where they carry out their function. Studies of model organisms have revealed that, despite important differences, several features of PGC migration are conserved. PGCs require an intrinsic motility programme and external guidance cues to survive and successfully migrate. Proper guidance involves both attractive and repulsive cues and is mediated by protein and lipid signalling.

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