Pathway to totipotency: lessons from germ cells

Cell. 2006 Dec 1;127(5):891-904. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2006.11.016.


Oocytes and sperm are some of the most differentiated cells in our bodies, yet they generate all cell types after fertilization. Accumulating evidence suggests that this extraordinary potential is conferred to germ cells from the time of their formation during embryogenesis. In this Review, we describe common themes emerging from the study of germ cells in vertebrates and invertebrates. Transcriptional repression, chromatin remodeling, and an emphasis on posttranscriptional gene regulation preserve the totipotent genome of germ cells through generations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Germ Cells / cytology*
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Totipotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Totipotent Stem Cells / metabolism