Germ cell nuclear factor

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2001 Dec;33(12):1141-6. doi: 10.1016/s1357-2725(01)00081-4.


Germ cell nuclear factor (GCNF) is an orphan nuclear receptor for which a ligand has yet to be identified. However, we do know that GCNF binds to a novel response element as a homodimer and regulates expression of genes, such as the protamines, through this element. In the absence of a ligand, GCNF is a transcriptional repressor that interacts with co-repressors. During embryonic development, GCNF is expressed between the gastrula and neurula stages. Loss of GCNF causes embryonic lethality, disrupts normal somitogenesis, as well as neural tube and axis formation, suggesting that GCNF is a critical factor for normal embryonic development. In adult vertebrates, GCNF expression is predominantly found in the germ cells of gonads. GCNF expression in germ cells suggests that understanding its function in adults will yield greater insight into the regulation of gametogenesis, leading to new contraceptive targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Dimerization
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Exons
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Biological
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 6, Group A, Member 1
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Ligands
  • NR6A1 protein, human
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 6, Group A, Member 1
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear