Research Topic

Germline Development: From Germline Stem Cells to Gametes

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Stem cells are endowed with the ability to both generate daughter cells and self-renew. In the adult gonads of many organisms, a specialized population of stem cells (termed germline stem cells; GSCs) is maintained to replenish stocks of germ cells whose numbers are depleted by gamete production. As the ...

Stem cells are endowed with the ability to both generate daughter cells and self-renew. In the adult gonads of many organisms, a specialized population of stem cells (termed germline stem cells; GSCs) is maintained to replenish stocks of germ cells whose numbers are depleted by gamete production. As the parent cells of gametes (egg and sperm), GSCs are also responsible for the transgenerational flow of genetic information.

During germline development, GSCs make a number of major fate decisions – mitosis-meiosis, sperm-oocyte, soma-germ cell fate, and apoptosis-survival decisions. A strict regulation of these decisions is vital to the development of all multicellular organisms, including humans. Aberrant regulation, on the other hand, may result in either loss of a specific cell type or uncontrolled cell proliferation; two events that are associated with infertility and germline tumors, respectively. Although significant progress has been made in dissecting the molecular mechanisms of each type of regulation in worms, flies, zebrafish, and mice, understanding the intricate interplay among the regulatory networks during germline development remains a major challenge.

We invite investigators to contribute original research and review articles that will stimulate the continuing efforts to understand the molecular mechanisms of how GSCs and their cell fates are controlled systemically in vertebrates and invertebrates. Some remarkably conserved mechanisms and intriguing differences are beginning to emerge from studies of germlines in C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, and mice. Given that germline development in these model organisms is also broadly conserved with that in humans, animal studies are invaluable to decipher the connection between germline development and tumorigenesis.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
o Conserved principles for GSC maintenance
o Interaction between GSCs and their niche
o Cell cycle controls of GSCs
o GSC as a model system for stem cell regulation
o Epigenetic regulation of germ cells
o Germ cell fate specification: mitosis-meiosis or sperm-oocyte
o Spermatogenesis or oogenesis
o Communications between somatic cells and germ cells
o Germ cell fate reprogramming
o Post-transcriptional regulation of germ cell development
o Germ cells response to stress
o Evo-devo of germ cells


Keywords: Germline, Germline Stem Cells, Mitosis-Meiosis Decision, Sex Determination, Gametogenesis


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