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Bioessays. 1998 Sep;20(9):722-32.

In line with our ancestors: Oct-4 and the mammalian germ.

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EMBL, Gene Expression Programme, Heidelberg, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Bioessays 1998 Dec;20(12):1056.


The transcription factor Oct-4 is expressed specifically in the totipotent germline cycle of mice. Cells that lose Oct-4 differentiate along different paths to form embryonic and extraembryonic somatic tissue. Oct-4 may maintain the potency of stem and germline cells by preventing all other differentiation pathways. Oct-4 may also regulate the molecular differentiation of cells in the germ lineage as it progresses from the fertilized egg, through cleavage stage/morula blastomeres, blastocyst, inner cell mass, epiblast, germ cells, and gametes. The factors that regulate, and are regulated by, Oct-4 are reviewed with respect to the phenomena of cell potency and germ/soma segregation and differentiation.

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