SEP 17, 2015 1:30 PM PDT

Life Begins With an Egg and a Sperm Cell...Then What?

WRITTEN BY: Sarah Hertrich
Due to a lack in the development of reliable experimental systems for studying human embryos, there is currently not much known about the development of human germ cells. A germ cell is a type of cell that gives rise to an organism which is able to reproduce sexually. Once the egg and the sperm cell come together to form a reproductive cell, they are then called a gamete. A gamete is a haploid cell, meaning it contains a single set of 23 chromosomes containing human DNA. In the very beginning stages of germ cell development abnormalities within the germline can occur, giving rise to a variety of critical conditions including infertility, impaired development, as well as genetic and epigenetic disorders.
Because of the limitations in access to relevant materials as well as the controversy surrounding human stem cell research, there is a critical lack of information surrounding the mechanisms for germ cell development in humans.
Researchers at Kyoto University have sought out to determine the cause of these abnormalities through the development of a human germ cell model. What we currently know about germ cell development is due to research performed using a mouse model organism. While using this model has provided a great deal of valuable information, there are significant differences in the precise mechanisms for germ cell development among mammalian species. Because of the limitations in access to relevant materials as well as the controversy surrounding human stem cell research, there is a critical lack of information surrounding the mechanisms for germ cell development in humans.

In their study, researchers from Kyoto University explored the possibility of using a mouse germline to induce a human germ cellfate for the study of early human germ cell development. Through the development of this laboratory human germ cell line model, the research team was able to illustrate the transcription interactions and signaling events that occur during stem cell development. More importantly they were able to determine that epigenetic marks are “erased” at the beginning of germ cell development.

Through this research, the team hopes to be able to uncover the underlying mechanisms for conditions such as infertility.  Although the human germ cell line model is still in its early stages, their goal is to discover the mechanism throughout the entire developmental process from the embryo to adult. With the use of this model it may also possible to uncover the cause of newly identified epigenetic disorders, such as autism. It is expected that the impact of this research will be vast.

Source: MedicineNet; Cell Stem Cell; ScienceDaily
 
About the Author
  • I am a postdoctoral researcher with interests in pre-harvest microbial food safety, nonthermal food processing technologies, zoonotic pathogens, and plant-microbe interactions. My current research projects involve the optimization of novel food processing technologies to reduce the number of foodborne pathogens on fresh produce. I am a food geek!
You May Also Like
DEC 31, 2020
Microbiology
A Single-Celled Organism That Can Learn
DEC 31, 2020
A Single-Celled Organism That Can Learn
Physarum polycephalum is an unusual single-celled organism that can grow to be several square feet in size. These massiv ...
JAN 10, 2021
Microbiology
Some Bacteria Know the Time
JAN 10, 2021
Some Bacteria Know the Time
People, animals, and even plants are known to have biological clocks, and new work has revealed that free-living bacteri ...
JAN 14, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Identical Twins Aren't Exactly the Same
JAN 14, 2021
Identical Twins Aren't Exactly the Same
Identical, or monozygotic twins develop from one egg that splits into 2, so the embryos that develop independently from ...
JAN 28, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Gene Variants Affecting an Ion Channel Alter Parkinson's Disease Risk
JAN 28, 2021
Gene Variants Affecting an Ion Channel Alter Parkinson's Disease Risk
These variants can raise, or lower the risk of the disease, and now researchers have learned how they work.
FEB 08, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Stem Cell Therapy is Now Suitable for Dogs
FEB 08, 2021
Stem Cell Therapy is Now Suitable for Dogs
With good food and exercise, many dogs can live a long and healthy life. But some suffer from chronic conditions that ca ...
MAR 01, 2021
Microbiology
New Therapeutic Potential for a 'Miracle Poison'
MAR 01, 2021
New Therapeutic Potential for a 'Miracle Poison'
Most people know botulism as a nasty disease and botox as a wrinkle reducer that may cause a 'frozen' look if it's overu ...
Loading Comments...