Oct-4: a germline-specific transcription factor mapping to the mouse t-complex

EMBO J. 1990 Jul;9(7):2185-95.


Oct-4 is a maternally expressed octamer-binding protein encoded by the murine Oct-4 gene. It is present in unfertilized oocytes, but also in the inner cell mass and in primordial germ cells. Here we show that the ectopic expression of Oct-4 in HeLa cells is sufficient for transcriptional activation from the octamer motif, indicating that Oct-4 is a transcription factor. Therefore, Oct-4 is the first transcription factor described that is specific for the early stages of mouse development. The spatial and temporal expression patterns were further determined using in situ hybridization. With this technique Oct-4 expression is detected in the oocyte, in the blastocyst and before gastrulation in the embryonic ectoderm. After day 8 Oct-4 expression decreases and is restricted to primordial germ cells from about day 8.5 onwards. Therefore Oct-4 is a transcription factor that is specifically expressed in cells participating in the generation of the germline lineage. Linkage analysis using B X D recombinant inbred mouse strains demonstrates that Oct-4 maps to chromosome 17 in or near the major histocompatibility complex. Several mouse mutants in the distal region of the mouse t-complex affecting blastocyst and embryonic ectoderm formation also map to this region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blastocyst / physiology
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Vectors
  • HeLa Cells / metabolism
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • Oocytes / physiology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • DNA Probes
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • Pou5f1 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors