The generation of properly functioning gametes in vitro requires reconstitution of the multistepped pathway of germ cell development. We demonstrate here the generation of primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) in mice with robust capacity for spermatogenesis. PGCLCs were generated from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) through epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs), a cellular state highly similar to pregastrulating epiblasts but distinct from epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs). Reflecting epiblast development, EpiLC induction from ESCs/iPSCs is a progressive process, and EpiLCs highly competent for the PGC fate are a transient entity. The global transcription profiles, epigenetic reprogramming, and cellular dynamics during PGCLC induction from EpiLCs meticulously capture those associated with PGC specification from the epiblasts. Furthermore, we identify Integrin-β3 and SSEA1 as markers that allow the isolation of PGCLCs with spermatogenic capacity from tumorigenic undifferentiated cells. Our findings provide a paradigm for the first step of in vitro gametogenesis.
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