Requirement of Oct3/4 function for germ cell specification

Daiji Okamura, Yuko Tokitake, Hitoshi Niwa, Yasuhisa Matsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


In mammalian embryos, PGCs (primordial germ cells) are specified from a pluripotent epiblast cell population after implantation. In this study, we demonstrated an essential role for the germline-specific transcription factor Oct3/4 in PGC specification. We generated chimeric embryos with ZHBTc4 ES cells lacking both alleles of the Oct3/4 gene (pou5f1). Pluripotency was maintained by an Oct3/4 transgene, and its expression was suppressed by doxycycline (Dox). Transcription of the Oct3/4 transgene in the ES-derived cells unexpectedly suffered constitutive suppression in chimeric embryos without Dox, and the ES-derived cells contributed to PGC precursor-like cells, but failed to form PGCs. We then attempted to rescue Oct3/4 expression in the ES-derived cells in the chimeric embryos by introducing an additional Oct3/4 transgene. The ES cell-derived cells indeed recovered Oct3/4 transcription in these chimeric embryos, and were successfully specified to PGCs. We further confirmed the requirement of Oct3/4 by using another derivative of ZHBTc4 ES cells in which a Dex (dexamethasone)-dependent Oct3/4 transgene was introduced. In the presence of Dox, Oct3/4 protein was absent in the nuclei of the ES-derived cells, which failed to form PGCs. In contrast, the ES-derived cells could be specified to PGCs after activation of Oct3/4 function in the presence of Dex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-584
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 May 15


  • Chimeric embryo
  • Embryonic stem (ES) cell
  • Epiblast
  • Oct3/4
  • Pluripotency
  • Precursor
  • Primordial germ cell
  • Specification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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