DOI: 10.1242/dev.201790 ISSN: 0950-1991

Gastruloid-derived primordial germ cell-like cells develop dynamically within integrated tissues

Christopher B. Cooke, Christopher Barrington, Peter Baillie-Benson, Jennifer Nichols, Naomi Moris
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology


Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are the early embryonic precursors of gametes – sperm and egg cells. PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) can currently be derived in vitro from pluripotent cells exposed to signalling cocktails and aggregated into large embryonic bodies, but these do not recapitulate the native embryonic environment during PGC formation. Here, we show that mouse gastruloids, a three-dimensional in vitro model of gastrulation, contain a population of gastruloid-derived PGCLCs (Gld-PGCLCs) that resemble early PGCs in vivo. Importantly, the conserved organisation of mouse gastruloids leads to coordinated spatial and temporal localisation of Gld-PGCLCs relative to surrounding somatic cells, even in the absence of specific exogenous PGC-specific signalling or extra-embryonic tissues. In gastruloids, self-organised interactions between cells and tissues, including the endodermal epithelium, enables the specification and subsequent maturation of a pool of Gld-PGCLCs. As such, mouse gastruloids represent a new source of PGCLCs in vitro and, owing to their inherent co-development, serve as a novel model to study the dynamics of PGC development within integrated tissue environments.

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