Germ cells transmit genetic information to the next generation through gametogenesis. Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are the first germ-cell population established during development, and are the common origins of both oocytes and spermatogonia. Unlike in other species, PGCs in birds undergo blood circulation to migrate toward the genital ridge, and are one of the major biological properties of avian PGCs. Germ cells enter meiosis and arrest at prophase I during embryogenesis in females, whereas in males they enter mitotic arrest during embryogenesis and enter meiosis only after birth. In chicken, gonadal sex differentiation occurs as early as embryonic day 6, but meiotic initiation of female germ cells starts from a relatively late stage (embryonic day 15.5). Retinoic acid controls meiotic entry in developing chicken gonads through the expressions of retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 2, a major retinoic acid synthesizing enzyme, and cytochrome P450 family 26, subfamily B member 1, a major retinoic acid-degrading enzyme. The other major biological property of avian PGCs is that they can be propagated in vitro for the long term, and this technique is useful for investigating proliferation mechanisms. The main factor involved in chicken PGC proliferation is fibroblast growth factor 2, which activates the signaling of MEK/ERK and thus promotes the cell cycle and anti-apoptosis. Furthermore, the activation of PI3K/Akt signaling is indispensable for the proliferation and survival of chicken PGCs.
Tagami, T., Miyahara, D., & Nakamura, Y. (2017). Avian primordial germ cells. In Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (Vol. 1001, pp. 1–18). Springer New York LLC. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-3975-1_1
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