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Stem Cells Dev. 2011 Dec;20(12):2205-15. doi: 10.1089/scd.2010.0575. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Ultrastructural characterization of mouse embryonic stem cell-derived oocytes and granulosa cells.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Münster, Germany.


Germ cells are a unique population of cells responsible for transmitting genetic information from one generation to the next. Our understanding of the key mechanisms underlying germ cell development in vivo remains scarce because of insufficient amounts of cell materials available for conducting biological studies. The establishment of in vitro differentiation models that support the generation of germ cells from mouse pluripotent stem cells provides an alternative means for studying reproductive development. The detection and analysis of stem cell-derived germ cells, however, present technical challenges. Methods for determining the developmental stage of germ cells ex vivo, such as gene expression and/or immunochemical analyses are inadequate, frequently necessitating the use of alternative, elaborate methods to prove germ cell identity. We have generated putative oocytes and granulosa cells in vitro from mouse embryonic stem cells and utilized electron microscopy to characterize these cells. Here, we report on the striking ultrastructural similarity of in vitro-generated oocytes and granulosa cells to in vivo oocytes developing within follicles.

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