Effect of Steel factor and leukaemia inhibitory factor on murine primordial germ cells in culture

Abstract

DESPITE the importance of germ cells to the survival of species, surprisingly little is known about their embryological origin, proliferation, migration and entry into mitotic arrest or meiosis1–5. Mutations in the murine Dominant White Spotting (W) and Steel genes, which respectively encode the c-kit tyrosine kinase receptor and the c-kit ligand (or Steel factor), impair the development of primordial germ cells (PGCs) in vivo, as well as haematopoietic stem cells and neural crest-derived melanoblasts3,6–16. Here we use a monoclonal antibody against c-kit tyrosine kinase receptor and recombinant Steel factor to study the c-kit receptor-ligand system in cultured PGCs. In addition, we show that leukaemia inhibitory factor (also known as differentiation inhibitory activity)17,18, a factor secreted by STO fibroblasts, can stimulate proliferation of primordial germ cells in vitro.

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